Karen L. Gates (Owner)
Karen has had a passion for dance since she was five years old taking Jazz, Tap and Ballet lessons. She continued dancing throughout her school years until the present. Karen met her husband, Bob, when she was taking Disco Dance Lessons, as he was her instructor. After they were married, they went on to competing with the Fred Astaire Dance Organization. Karen and Bob took many 1st place awards. She has worked at the Ohio Regional Office of Fred Astaire Dance Studios for over five years as an Executive Assistant to the Ohio Franchisor, Guy A. Schiavone.
Karen is excited to have the opportunity to open up her Fred Astaire Dance Studio right here in the Chagrin Area. She is looking forward to extending her love of dance to the residence of Chagrin Falls and the surrounding areas.
Bob D. Gates (Manager / Instructor)
Bob started Ballroom Dancing in 1977 as a student. His love for dance grew and he soon became a ballroom dance instructor. While teaching Disco at a local establishment in 1979, he met his wife, Karen. They soon married and have been sharing the love of dance ever since.
Bob and Karen have been dancing for over 30 years and have competed several times in regional Fred Astaire competitions, winning various 1st place awards. After competing as an amature, Bob became a Fred Astaire certified ballroom instructor. For Bob, dance is a great way to relax and have fun. Bob looks forward to having a fun filled lesson with you!
Shari Smith-Shemitz (Instructor)
Shari’s love of Dance began at the age of 7 when began taking Tap, Jazz and Ballet with the Neylon Dance Studio. At age 9, she began to heavily focus on ballet. She then studied at The Fine Arts Association in Willoughby under the direction of Ray and Jan Smith. She attended the University of Akron with a Major in Performing Arts and Ballet from 1977-1981.
Unfortunately, the shelf life of a Ballerina is short- lived and with life changes, she discovered the wonderful world of Ballroom! Taught, trained and certified through Fred Astaire Dance Studios since 1992. Shari has competed in numerous competitions throughout the country both with her students and as a professional. Shari would love to share her passion for dance with you!
Ryan Schultz (Instructor)
Dancing has always held a special place in Ryan’s heart. After enjoying social dancing for years, Ryan decided to broaden his horizons and become a ballroom dance student. As Ryan learned more about the vast ballroom world, he decided to turn his hobby into a profession. Ryan is now a Fred Astaire Certified Instructor. As Ryan continues to climb the instructor rankings in the state of Ohio, he also enjoys competing professionally. Ryan has taken two first place and one second place award in the Novice Division of Fred Astaire’s regional competitions.
Although Ryan is certified in all Ballroom styles, he specializes in Argentine Tango, Salsa, and Bachata. He would love to share his passion for these dances with you on a fun filled lesson!
Kim McNamara (Instructor)
Kim McNamara, MA, LPC-CR began her Ballroom Dance career in 1995. She worked her way to Gold Instructor for Fred Astaire Dance Studios by 2000, and earned First Place at the Ohio American Smooth and Latin Regionals Competition in 1997. Kim trained under and worked with more Ballroom Dance professionals than can be named here, and has especially enjoyed training and performing with her husband, Rob McNamara. She has choreographed stage performances, wedding dances, cotillions, and many other specialty dance numbers, and has most recently taught group and private lessons in the Canton/Massillon area, has guest choreographed for several stage shows, and co-produced the Lion’s Lincoln Theatre Dancing Through the Decades Ballroom Dance Competition stage production.
In addition to Ballroom Dance Instructor, Kim also works as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the Canton/Massillon area, teaches Psychology courses in Akron, and has been a Certified Personal Trainer and Kickboxing Instructor since 2006.
Robert McNamara (Instructor)
Robert McNamara began his Ballroom Dance career in 1987 at the Akron Fred Astaire studio before transferring to the Canton Fred Astaire studio working under Esther Rehm and David Stewart for an additional 3 years. In 1991 Robert worked for and trained with Ballroom legends such as Mary Murphy (So You Think You Can Dance), Ron Montez (America’s Ballroom), Tony and Melanie (Latin Champions), Bob Powers (World Champion), David and Carrie Kloss, and Geoffrey Fells among many others for four years at Champion Ballroom Dance Academy in San Diego . When Robert returned to Ohio, he co-owned the Canton, Ohio Fred Astaire Dance Studio with George Hendricks (World Champion/Adjudicator) from 1995-1997. He worked his way up to Gold Instructor with a specialty in Theatre Arts. Among his numerous top teacher regional awards with Fred Astaire, in 1997 Robert became the Canadian-American Champion in Theatre Arts. Recently Robert has been a guest choreographer for multiple stage performances, and with his wife Kim, co-produced and directed the Lion’s Lincoln Theatre Dancing Through the Decades Ballroom Dance Competition.
In addition to Ballroom Dance Instructor, Rob has had a 20 year career in Information Technology which included working as an IT Director and CIO in several healthcare companies with a specialization in IT Infrastructure design and security.
Colleen Juhasz (Instructor)
Colleen Juhasz has a Bachelor of Science and Masters of Education in Exercise Science. She has been involved in athletics and the arts throughout her life. She is an avid runner and believes in living by healthy behaviors and decisions. Colleen has enjoyed dancing since she was a child and feels it is a great expression of one’s emotions, feelings, passions and life. She believes in building strong foundations with fundamentals; being able to learn and show progression is the best way to show success. She is excited to be a part of the Fred Astaire Team and grow along with her colleagues and students.
Diane has been involved in the Health and Wellness Industry for over 25 years. Diane holds a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science, is a Certified Corporate Wellness Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine. She is a trained facilitator for the Freedom from Smoking Tobacco Cessation program and also enjoys teaching Zumba classes several times a week. Diane received her Zumba Certification in November of 2007 and has been teaching ever since.
As a Be Well Solutions Health and Wellness Coach, Diane has spent the last five years helping clients discover and implement the tools needed to transform their unhealthy lifestyle habits into healthy and sustainable lifestyle habits. This ultimately improves the quality of their lives. Diane loves to share her expertise at each of her Zumba classes.