Voted one of Chicago’s Top 5 Dance Teachers 2013 by Art Intercepts, Szewai (C-Y) has been sharing the joy of partner dance since 2006. She is the founder of Duet Dance Studio, a Chicago dance studio that offers Latin, ballroom and wedding dance instruction and hosts BYOB dance parties. Szewai believes partner dancing has the power to connect people and bring people closer. Besides dancing, she enjoys discovering hidden gems in the city, finding great music and making short videos about people and things that inspire her.

It’s no wonder, then, that her gift-giving guide is heavily skewed toward those of us inclined to move our feet. And what better time than the holidays to get in the spirit!


by Szewai Lee of Duet Dance Studio

Szewai collage

1. Dance Clothing and Accessories

For the serious dancers, get them the perfect dance outfit so that they look their best on the dance floor! Check out Chicago Dance Supply and Allegro Dance Boutique for the perfect dance clothing, shoes and accessories.

2. Tickets to the Best Dance Performances in Chicago

Experience the best dancing in Chicago! Get your friends and family tickets to visit some of Chicago’s top dance companies and venues:

Companies – Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet.

Venues – The Dance Center of Columbia College, The Museum of Contemporary Arts, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

3. Personalized Private Dance Lessons

For people who get a little shy dancing in front of people, a one-on-one personalized dance lesson is a great fit. Private lessons at Duet Dance Studio allow you to learn at your own pace, choose dance styles that you are most interested in and select a time that works best for your schedule. Private lessons are also great for a couple who is getting ready for their wedding, celebrating a special occasion or simply wants a fun and romantic date night.

4. BYOB Ballroom Dance Class

Your girlfriend is a big fan of “Dancing with the Stars?” A BYOB group dance class will be a perfect gift! With a little help of wine or beer, not only will your girlfriend have fun learning the hottest salsa dance moves but you will also find yourself dancing like nobody is watching! Duet Dance Studio offers a variety of BYOB group dance classes that are designed for complete beginners. Check out our upcoming Ugly Sweater Swing Party, Beginner Merengue, and Beginner Tango!

5. Non-Cheesy Dance Movies

No more “Dirty Dancing” or “Flash Dance,” here are my top picks for non-cheesy and perhaps a little less well-known dance movies that any dance lover will enjoy:

  • “Shall We Dance” (Japanese Version): This is not the hollywood remake but the original version that is set in the bustling yet lonely Tokyo. It is a comedy about a middle-aged man dealing with boredom and struggles in his life by venturing into ballroom dancing. Along with top-notch acting, this movie is funny, heartwarming and captures the spirit of the Japanese culture and ballroom dance.
  • “Strictly Ballroom”: Directed by Baz Luhrmann, who has also directed “Moulin Rouge,” “Strictly Ballroom” is a classic love story expressed in a colorful, dramatic and humorous mockumentary way. Get the Special Edition DVD, which includes a documentary, “Samba to Fox Trot” that gives you a glimpse of the Australian competitive ballroom dancing. It’s hilarious!
  • “Mad Hot Ballroom”: A skillfully made documentary about some public school children in New York city learning the art of ballroom dancing. This film leads you through their struggles and lessons in their journey. Full of tears and laughter!
  • “Billy Elliot”: Set in north-eastern England during the 1984-5 coal miners’ strike, this story tells a young boy who has an uncommon dream, a dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer. This movie reminds you that anything is possible and never give up on your dreams.

* Photo credit for ance classes: Krysta Williams