By day, Grace Randle is the cheerful, efficient Executive Director of the Presbyterian Early Learning Center in Sunnyvale. By night, she is an impassioned ballroom dance diva, waltzing in the arms of Juan De Dios Garcia, owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in San Jose.
Randle, who attended a performance of the Santa Clara Chorale, spoke of the transformative power of dance in her life and how it came about by lucky chance.
About three years ago was a time of transition in Randle’s life. At a fundraiser auction for Sunnyvale Community Services, she opened herself to new possibilities. She placed a bid on Arthur Murray Studio dance lessons — and won.
“It took me a year to get up the courage to call the studio and redeem the coupon,” said Randle, who has been dancing ever since. “I fell in love with dance.”
It’s like getting ready for a high school prom when Randle participates in dance competitions. She has her hair and makeup done and puts on false eyelashes. She dons a dramatic, beaded gown and adds flashy costume jewelry she calls “sparkle.” Then she slips into her gold dancing shoes.
“You feel like a million dollars when you put on that dress and get yourself fixed up. Everybody’s elegant — no matter your size, gender, age — you’re all there to experience the joy of dance,” said Randle.
In summer 2019, she flew to Prague in the Czech Republic, where she performed with Garcia in a dance-o-rama with dancers from around the world.
Whether participating in a competition or taking a private or group lesson, Randle is buoyed by the camaraderie of like-minded folks.
“You walk into the studio and are greeted by friendly people and all kinds of dance music,” said Randle, who received the San Francisco Dance-O-Rama 2018 Top Student Newcomer Award. “Everybody dances with everybody. It’s a community of folks who have a common interest — to dance.
“From learning a variety of dances, dressing up to dance at incredible events, moving to music, dancing with Juan, and meeting new friends, I have found a joy that knows no bounds.”
“At this later stage of my life, I’ve truly found my passion,” said Randle, a San Jose resident. “Dancing has transformed my life.”