Welcome to the Dance Castle, Ilene’s dance website!

DANCE . . . . . is a beautiful form of art to which each artist can feel and interpret the magic of the moment.   I love to feel music and I am so grateful for all those who brought dance into my life, especially Paul and Elsie Miller.    Some people say that I was born to dance, but I think I was born to share dancing with you. 
Jim and I dance.  We have been dancing together for over ten years.  I started dancing 20 years ago with such great inspirations from line dancer Rayma Garcia, choreographers Cam and Lori Wong, and dancers extraordinaire Carlos and Karen Canto.   I went on to study ballroom, latin and swing dancing from ISTD professional Paul Miller and his wife, Elsie.  Jim thought he’d better learn to dance to date me, and it worked!   I taught Ballroom and Swing dance classes at Columbia College with Paul Miller for five years, then another five years with Jim.  The Community Education starts up again in the Spring of 2013, and our classes are again a part of the program. 
We opened our own home studio, The Dance Castle, in September 2010 at the request of our students and friends.  Our mission is to share our love, provide low-cost lessons and have a place to dance.   The lesson donations are used to help finance the Dance Galas and overhead.  Everything gets invested back into dancing.   We do have a day job as Owners-Biologists for our company, Foothill Sierra  Pest Control.  Our evenings are filled with teaching and dancing in our community.
Love and Dance,
Ilene and Jim

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The Dance Pavillion



Check out all the photos on our facebook page:


My daughters manage my facebook page.   I’m totally fb-phobic, so please continue to email me directly or through this website.   Oh . . . I’m told to ask friends to “like” us on facebook . . . .

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As this is a summary page, please also check out the links under the header photo to keep informed about our classes, galas and the local dance events.


NOTICE:  Jolly Hanson’s Celebration of Life

When:  Saturday, February 8, 2020
Where:  Summerville High School Theater (located in the Large Gym)
17555 Tuolumne Road, Tuolumne, CA
Time:  1pm-4pm
The program will be casual with an open-microphone so that guests can tell “Jolly Stories.”
The program will be followed by a Potluck Dessert & Coffee Reception (Jolly did love his dessert) in the small Gym-right across the hall from the Theater.  Everything is indoors so will happen rain or shine.   Severe weather or Deep Snow will probably cancel the event.
The reception will be catered by The Rock-with their famous carrot cake, Chocolate/Chocolate cake, and coffee, hot tea, waters, and hot chocolate.
Guests are encouraged to bring their favorite stories, dessert and perhaps some photo(s). You MUST take your dessert home with you.   No need to RSVP the Theater will hold about 250 people.

Fabulous Fifties SWING DANCE, hosted by Bryce Williams and Matt Foster for their Senior Project will benefit “No Wildcat Left Behind” program.

Friday, February 21, 7 – 10 p.m.

Sonora Opera Hall

Music by the Rusty Rockers

Tickets:  Adults $20 presale or $25 at the door.   Under 21, $8    Call (209) 981-3578 for tickets and more information.   The Dance Castle will have tickets available; just let Ilene know how many you would like.

AND, tickets include four Beginning East Coast Swing lessons at 5 p.m. at Sonora High on January 29, February 5, 12, and 19.

Fabulous Fifties Swing Dance


Thank you for all your support; galas return in 2020!

see the “gala” tab above for all the details and photos of past galas!

Dance  Classes:   2019

for more information, click on the tab under the header photo!

Classes are $5 – $10 donation, as noted!

Tuesdays with Kayla   

through January 14th:

6:30 p.m.:  Beginning Hustle (no experience required)

7:30 p.m.:   Beginning 2 Waltz (must know basic steps)

classes are $10/person/class

Adult BALLET CLASS on Tuesdays

5:15 – 6:16, on-going:  Join Angela’s Adult Beginning Ballet class for a mix of barre, floor and routines.   Great fun and a great workout!     ($7.50/class)

Note:  classes resume on January 7th

Thursdays with Peter Baldridge:

Peter will teach the basics of social tango as it was danced in Buenos Aires during its Golden Age.   

6:00 – 7:00:  Beginning Argentine Tango, on-going

7:00 – 8:30:  Intermediate Argentine Tango, on-going


no class on Thursday, November 28; Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Fridays at the Dance Castle:

7 – 9 p.m.:  Folk Dancing is on first, third and fifth Fridays of the month with Carlos.  Dancers and non-dancers of all ages will have fun learning these beautiful international dances.  No partner is needed.  We are loving the music, the dancing, and the wonderful time together with other dancers.  Join us!

SATURDAY WORKSHOPS with Nathan Ahlgrim:

Saturday, January 25th Workshops:
Our first event of 2020 will be a pair of Salsa workshops on January 25th. This is a great opportunity for anyone just starting the dance, looking for a refresher, and hoping to expand their moves and style!
Salsa Level I: 10:00 – 12:00. Here, we will cover the fundamental footwork and technique to get everyone out on the dance floor whenever a Salsa song comes on.    $10/person
Salsa Level II: 1:30 – 3:30. We’ll be spicing it up this time, with more advanced figures, partnership work, and styling.   $10/person
Dancers are welcome to attend both workshops for a more comprehensive Salsa-filled day! Anyone in attendance is welcome to join us for lunch somewhere near Columbia Historic State Park (location TBD based on popular demand).
As always, please contact me (nathan.s.ahlgrim@gmail.com) if you plan on attending one or both of the workshops.
February Workshops will be at the Dance Castle from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.   $10/person
February 22nd from 10 – 12:
Bolero Fundamentals!
Please join me in learning this beautifully unique dance: the Bolero. This flowing, sensual dance combines the technique and patterns of Rumba and Waltz to challenge and connect dance partners unlike any other dance! We will be covering the fundamental steps and technique of the dance as well as some patterns to keep it interesting for years to come.
 Please email Nathan if you are planning to attend this workshop at nathan.s.ahlgrim@gmail.com]
February 29th from 10-12:
Spins and Turns!
In this intermediate/advanced workshop, we will be covering the technique to get you spinning and turning (and guys, this means you, too!). Spirals, forward walk turns, spotting, we’ll cover it all! Once we learn it, then it’s time to get dizzy.
*Please note, this workshop is not for beginning dancers. It will assume a base level of dance knowledge, and a moderate level of comfort with diverse steps.
This workshop will focus on spins and turns as they directly apply to Latin dances (think Cha-Cha, Rumba, Swing, Salsa)
 Please email Nathan if you are planning to attend this workshop at nathan.s.ahlgrim@gmail.com]

for more information, contact Nathan at (630) 363-4305, nathan.s.ahlgrim@gmail.com

BEST EVENTS . . . . .

If the Beat Fits, JUST DANCE!

The Sunday community dance continues on the third Sundays (some dates have been changed due to holidays and scheduling conflicts).  See Events tab for all the dates.    

JUST DANCE is held from 1 to 4 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church (of the 49er’s) in Columbia.   Meet wonderful dancers and have a place to practice and dance to awesome live music.  We love the wonderful talent and energy the musicians bring for our listening and dancing pleasures.  Les Olson of Les’ Entertainment will be entertaining us this year. $5 donation goes to the church’s Historic Building Fund.  Light refreshments available . . . and of course we love it when people help with bringing something to share!     

See you out dancing!

Big hugs from Jim & Ilene

just to share . . . .

2016 was a BLAST and full of dance!

Congratulations to the West Coast Swing Flash Mob group under the direction of Stephanie Merfeld and Jim Clapp:

We had an amazing time performing all over the county for the International West Coast Swing Flash Mob Day!    Dancers:  Jim Duffy with Ilene Tassano, Kyle McDonald with Colleen McHenry, Mark Wright with Lisa Reza, Quentin Jongejan with April Foster and Jim Tassano with Bonnie Brunk.

The Thriller/Zombie class entertained the living in October.  Big thanks to Heather Nordstrom for the classes!  (see photo below)


Dance Fitness Instructor, Susan Forbes, has been amazing at instrumenting our Witchy Dances in October.  The “Dance Castle Witches” had their All Hallow’s Faire Debut on October 22nd as a pre-show for the Tinder Fire Dancers:

The Fire-Dancers were amazing:

I was honored to work with this talented group of young men and women:

Teresa’s Quinceanera, choreographed September, 2014:

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