Local Author, Studio Big Winners In Regional Dance Competition

By: Jennifer Sexton-Riley

Topics: Local authors , local artist

Anne D. LeClaire and Adam Spencer practicing in the Adam in Chatham studio. 

Some of the best stories sometimes seem to be heading in one direction, and then, without warning, they spin and swoop you off into another direction with all the grace of a dancer on a gleaming dance floor. That's exactly what recently happened to one of our very own local storytellers, bestselling author Anne D. LeClaire, and it came close to sweeping her off her feet.
LeClaire recently competed in the Commonwealth Classic, an annual dance competition which took place at the Boston Marriott Burlington Hotel in Burlington on Nov. 4 to 7. Signed up to dance in nine heats, competing in both the Argentine tango and American tango, LeClaire came away with a ribbon in every one, a total of seven blue ribbons and two red. Her instructor and dance partner, Adam Spencer, known in dance circles by his studio name, Adam in Chatham, won Top Teacher in the competition. Fellow instructor Angel Fox won Top Female Instructor, and the Adam in Chatham studio won Top Studio in the competition. A number of other Adam in Chatham dancers also came home with honors, including five dancers who made it into the Top 20 Students category. Not bad for the studio’s first time back in several years due to the pandemic.
Two years ago, none of this was even the faintest blip on LeClaire's radar. She knew Adam Spencer socially, she explained, but had never been a dancer herself or even considered taking dance lessons. All that changed when she received a call from a friend, photographer Kim Roderiques, who just wouldn't take no for an answer.
“It was a time in my life of significant loss,” LeClaire said. Her husband of 55 years had passed a few months earlier, and it was a difficult time. “In December of 2019, Kim called and said Adam was having an open house at the dance studio, and that we should go. I told her I was not in a place where I felt like going out, but she convinced me to go. She said, 'Come on, it will be fun! It will be great! We can go out for a glass of wine after!' I said OK, but I won't dance. We were there 10 minutes, and Adam had us up learning the cha cha.”
By January, LeClaire started dance classes with Spencer. After her first lesson, she found herself crying in her car.
“I was filled with such joy,” LeClaire said. “I realized that I can feel sorrow and joy at the same time.”
By March, LeClaire was completely in love with her dance classes. She discovered that the tango seemed to be the dance that resonates with her the most.
“I hear tango music and something in me comes alive,” she said.
COVID-19 put the brakes on in-person dance classes from March to August 2020, but as soon as safety allowed, she was once again back in the studio, moving to music, feeling joyful and alive. She still resisted the notion of dancing in any sort of recital, but the following spring, when Spencer was working on dance video showcases with dance students, LeClaire agreed to create a video too. By August, she and Spencer were starting to work together toward the goal of competing in the Commonwealth Classic.
“When we started in August it was very challenging for me,” LeClaire said. “There were lifts, and it didn't feel safe at first – not physically, but emotionally and mentally. To push ourselves beyond self-imposed limits is richly rewarding. Especially at this time in my life, it would be so easy to let life get smaller and more careful. Taking the risk is so important. We seek safety, when we should be seeking intelligent risk. If something sparks one tiny bit of passion, we need to go for it and not be afraid.”
LeClaire said that as she watched the students and instructors interact at the Commonwealth Classic, she could see in action the reasons that Adam in Chatham won the Top Studio honor, along with instructors Spencer and Fox. She was touched by the way the instructors really connected with their students on the floor, showed them off and cheered each other on.
“I think it's a privilege to be able to study at Adam in Chatham, and I think we will look back someday and say we didn't know how fortunate we were,” LeClaire said. “No matter what your day is like, you get in the studio and you walk out revived and euphoric. I didn't even know I wanted to dance. It's a great feeling I didn't expect.”
LeClaire said she hopes others will feel a spark of inspiration from her story, and that they will seek out that “intelligent risk,” whether it calls them to the dance floor, or to some other passion.
“If you feel that spark, go for it,” LeClaire said. “We'd better live while we're still alive.”
Visit Adam in Chatham at adaminchatham.com, or on Facebook at facebook.com/adaminchatham.