Business Spotlight: Fred Astaire's grace lies behind every step

Cybelle Lyon of New Berlin works on her dance steps with instructor Malcom Kelly at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio at 15760 West Capitol Drive.

Cybelle Lyon of New Berlin works on her dance steps with instructor Malcom Kelly at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio at 15760 West Capitol Drive. Photo By C.T. Kruger

May 5, 2015

Some of the dances taught at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Brookfield were born years after its namesake hung up his wing tips. Yet, according to its proprietor, the iconic entertainer's signature footwork and grace can still be found in every series of movements.

"The fundamentals of dance that Fred practiced are evident in all types — from ballroom to even hip-hop; they're all interrelated," said Albina Habrle, who also owns an Astaire franchise in Milwaukee. "It's an art form of body coordination that's constantly evolving."

A native of Russia, Albina immigrated to the United States 18 years ago, shortly after arriving in Milwaukee as a college foreign exchange student. One year later, she began her 17-year affiliation with the Fred Astaire Studios, starting as a dance instructor, before moving to manager and finally assuming ownership of the Brookfield franchise in 2005.

"I grew up dancing, but never thought I could make a stable living in the arts until I moved here," said Albina, now a naturalized U.S. citizen, who recently retired from a highly decorated professional dance career that saw her capture nearly 20 Fred Astaire championships in the American rhythm division. "This country gave me the opportunity to pursue something I loved."

Today, the certified dance coach oversees a staff of a dozen full-time professional instructors at her West Capitol Drive studio. There, clients learn the steps necessary to execute the Foxtrot, rumba, samba, and scores of other popular domestic and international dances.

"Our clients generally seem to want to learn many different dance styles, so it's important that our studio have a diverse team of instructors to teach them," said Albina. "Some are couples, who are preparing for their wedding and want to learn how to waltz, while others — like senior-citizen couples — are interested in taking a polka class for the health and social benefits associated with dancing."

Regardless of their motives for joining the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, she says, all clients receive customized lessons and are allowed to progress at their own pace.

The studio also hosts Friday night dance parties, dinner dances, and it houses a retail store, where customers can purchase shoes and outfits, including tailored dresses.

"We're a one-stop shop," said Albina. "People can learn to dance either for fun or competitively, meet people to fill a relationship void, all while keeping a decades-old etiquette alive, where men are taught how to escort women. We have everything people need to enrich their lives through dance."


BUSINESS NAME: Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Brookfield

ADDRESS: 15760 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, WI 53005-2201

PHONE: (262) 796-1121


OWNER: Albina Habrle


TYPE OF BUSINESS: Dance instruction

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "To enrich the lives of anyone and everyone who is associated with our company."

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