Last week, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Leonard Theiss. In a world that is full of strong personalities, preferences, and emotions, he was a gentle presence. Whenever we photographed an Arthur Murray event, he was there to dance, judge, and be an ambassador for his art form.
It was not an exaggeration that he was at EVERY Arthur Murray event we attended. To illustrate, we first attended a large Dance-o-rama in 2007 at the Bally’s in Atlantic City. Being that this was my first serious ballroom dance photography, many of my memories have long since left me. I found the folder of photos, and saw him at the dais with his cousin, Steve sitting next to him.
Soon after, the 2008 Northstar Dance-o-rama was officially the first event where TimeLine Media was the photography vendor. At this time, he brought students far from his home studio in Alexandria, Virginia to compete. I noticed how soft spoken, and gentle he was both on and off the floor. Likewise I saw many other dance teachers and students that were so happy to see him. Although he was an important person in the company, he gave so much of his attention to his students.
Throughout the years, Leonard became more familiar with us. Of course, we made lots of photos of him and his students, and he always made us feel welcome. Rarely, we would visit his studio to dance, and he was happy to see us do more than play with cameras. I’ll remember him as a friend to all of the staff in the DC area – a dancer that appreciated studying the craft and passing his passion along to staff and student. To all of the Theiss family, and the extended Arthur Murray family, please accept our condolences.
Last month, I was saddened to hear of the passing of Mike Curtis. Before I knew of his history on the football field, I knew him as a ballroom dance student! We were studio mates at the Arthur Murray in Tysons, Virginia. Not until I stumbled on a film recalling Superbowl III did I know of his previous profession.
Mike was a linebacker for the Baltimore Colts. During his successful career, he played in two Superbowls Championship games. However, he only won one of them. Undeniably, the loss to the Jets was a compelling story for NFL history. Because it was before my time, I only knew the story of the winners. Hearing Mike tell the side from the Colts was really interesting.
For this shoot, the managers of the Arthur Murray studios asked if I could make some photos of Mike. At that time, ‘Dancing with the Stars’ was a popular TV series with football players as regular contestants. Moreover, Mike was campaigning to be entered into the football hall of fame. So this shoot was a good collaboration for everyone. He was without a doubt, the most famous person I had photographed in my fledgling photography career.
Mike’s instructors were very happy to join him in the photos. While it may be true he was a beast on the field, he was gentle around the dance floor. We would seem him week after week, and sometimes at the big events. It was quite the contrast to see a football player that enjoyed dancing so much. Thank you for the photos, Mike, and condolences to your family.
This was another fun challenge for me to photograph. These two were amazingly quick in their direction changes, and sharp in their lines. Whenever her long hair would flail in the air, I let the shutter fly to try to catch it mid flight!
We really enjoyed our trip down to Asheville. Since both of us were able to make it this year, we had time to go around and see the downtown area, one of the arboretums, and some of the nice restaurants. In any case, this is a place we would like to explore more. Moreover we texted family to say that we should plan a trip down here so we can see even more. Thanks again for visiting the site to see the photos, and we hope to see you at the next Asheville Dance Classic this fall!