For Suzy and Hondo, dancing is like 'lightning in a bottle'
Bemidji couple's passion for dance and dancing to live music, shapes their lives and how they give back to community.
BEMIDJI — Sharing passion for dancing to live music has long been the mission for the namesakes of Suzy and Hondo’s School of Dance in Bemidji.
Suzy Langhout’s mother was a dance instructor and Hondo took classes from her — but he almost took a different path.
“The very first day, I walked over to the teacher and asked for a drop slip," Hondo said. “I got cold feet. I got nervous and I wasn’t ready, and the teacher said, ‘Well, OK — but remember, we always need gentlemen. So please come back.’
“That was all I needed. The next term I signed up again.”
He ended up marrying his teacher’s daughter and ever since, they have taught together themselves.
The Langhouts joined the Wednesday, May 3, KAXE/KBXE Morning Show discussing their journey as dancers and the joys of creating opportunities for community members of all ages to learn a variety of dances, from the two-step to the cha-cha.
The couple recently expanded their reach through the creation of the nonprofit Bemidji Dance Academy. The nonprofit seeks to create more dance opportunities in the Bemidji area.
Over the past year, a Region 2 Arts Council grant allowed the Langhouts to host free, multi-generational dance parties.
The inspiration for these dance parties came when they once found themselves unexpectedly teaching a roomful of toddlers, rather than their typical classroom full of adults. They ended up leading the macarena, folk dances and “Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush,” among others.
“We looked at each other and, like, ‘OK, we have two hours,’” Hondo said. “ … I did a search through our computer list of songs that were kid-related, and in true vaudeville fashion, I would yell something across the room and she’d say, ‘Oh, I know that one.’
“ … Two hours went by and we had filled the time. It was like lightning in a bottle.”
They found the dances appropriate for all ages, and it built from there.
The last of those dance parties will be Sunday, May 14, also Mother’s Day. Everyone is welcome, they said, no matter experience level.
“If they come in and they are nervous at all, it goes away within five minutes,” Hondo said.
Coming up Friday, May 5, Suzy and Hondo will host an open forum with area musicians at Headwaters School of Music and Arts in Bemidji, where the conversation will revolve around how musicians can best play to dancers.
—5-6 p.m. Friday, May 5: Suzy and Hondo will host an open forum with area musicians at Headwaters School of Music and Arts in Bemidji.
— 1-3 p.m. Sunday, May 14: Multigenerational dance party at Suzy and Hondo Dance Studio in Bemidji.
“We just love the whole idea of the community dancing and musicians because it’s such a vital part of what we do and it’s so much more fun to dance to live music,” Suzy said. “And I think the musicians like to have dancers for the most part.”
For more information about Suzy and Hondo and their upcoming events, visit suzyandhondo.com.
Area Voices is made possible by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund and the citizens of Minnesota.