Getting Ready to Rumba

I had a studio in an old woolen mill that was being revitalized with small businesses. While there, I met a woman named Mary who was opening a dance studio with her mother. Mary really liked my art, and wanted to hang it in the studio and it became a dance studio / gallery set up.

There were many fun events. It was a hot little scene to make in a small little town, so hot the mill itself would later burn to the ground.


Posted Nov 24, 2006 at 3:50 AM

Mary E. DiGiovanni was living in San Diego six years ago when she saw an advertisement in a local paper for a dance instructor: Wanted, will train.

“Those ads are usually for strippers and I was relieved to find out they were advertising for dance instructors for a new ballroom studio,” Ms. DiGiovanni, 30, said. She said the California couple had opened a new studio and trained her in ballroom dancing. Soon, Ms. DiGiovanni was teaching others to dance the cha-cha-cha, rumba and waltzes. Ms. DiGiovanni fell in love with everything about dancing, and quickly began dancing competitively in Orange County, Calif. She eventually left the studio and began to teach independently, with Latin dances becoming her specialty.

Ms. DiGiovanni moved back to Mendon a few years ago, and decided to open her first dance business, which would allow her to spend time with her 3-year-old daughter and her mother, Cecile Dumais, who lives in Woonsocket, R.I. Ms. Dumais specializes in making customized designed clothing, vintage clothing and reupholstering furniture. Ms. DiGiovanni also studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

So by day, Ninth Studio, located in the Bernat Studio, 19 Depot St., will be all about fashion, and by night, Ninth Studio will be all about dancing.

“Ballroom dancing, partner dancing, just dancing,” Ms. DiGiovanni said. “Dancing is the universal art form. Not enough people are dancing, and dancing is something truly magical.”

One of her favorite memories is of her grandparents, who were enthusiastic ballroom dancers, especially her grandfather.

“All the women at every party lined up to wait to dance with Grandpa,” she said. “There’s definitely something to dancing.”

Ms. DiGiovanni said “Dancing With the Stars” has helped revive interest in couples dancing. But she said there is also a big singles population in the Blackstone Valley, so she plans on holding a singles night on a Friday once a month, “So people can just have fun dancing.”

Ballroom dancing gives people confidence, she said.

“People who are not ballroom dancing are depriving themselves of just pure bliss,” Ms. DiGiovanni said. “It’s so exhilarating.”

People, who visit the new ballroom, will also be able to see the work of Uxbridge artist T. Michael Tracy, who is sharing space there.

The pair decided to celebrate the grand opening of Ninth Studio in ballroom style with dancing demonstrations to the music of Point ‘n’ Swing Big Band, a popular 19-piece band founded in 1998 by Michael Fields of Grafton, the musical director and also an engineer for EMC Corporation.

The grand opening was set to coincide with Uxbridge’s annual First Holiday Night and Santa Parade to be held from 4 to 8 p.m. at different venues throughout town. Ninth Studio’s grand opening is scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. that night. This is the first time so many of the brand new businesses in the Bernat Mill complex, 19 Depot St., just off Route 16, will participate in First Holiday Night. Uxbridge First Holiday Night will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 2 at various venues in town.