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 twenty years.  I started dancing 30 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.    I taught Ballroom and Swing dance classes at Columbia College with Paul Miller for five years, then another fifteen years with Jim.  We continue to teach through the Community Education program at Columbia College, in addition to our private home studio. 
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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SPECIAL EVENT:  Our Folk Dance Group, led by Carlos Canto, will be offering folk dance lessons to the public during the Mother Lode Art Association’s Fine Art Show and Exhibit, April 7-15 at the Sonora Opera Hall.  This class will be on Monday, April 19th from 6-7 p.m.  Come join us!    


JUST DANCE, the community dance for anyone who wants to dance is BACK!   We found an incredible new DJ/Vocalist who will bring his great energy and vocals for your dancing and listening enjoyment.
We will be meeting every third Sunday of the month, so mark your calendars!
Date:   Sunday, April 16, 2023
Time:  1 p.m.  to  3:30 p.m.
Place:   First Presbyterian Church (aka 49er Church) in Columbia,                  
            11155 Jackson Street, Columbia
Music:  DJ & Vocals by Frank Silva
              Music will be played for ballroom, Latin, Swing, Country Western and party favorites! 
Food:   Light Refreshments (your food donations makes this more fun!)
Cost:  $5 for seniors (60+), $10 for adults, no charge for under 18 years old.   This is a fund raiser for the church’s Historic Building Fund.  It’s a win-win:  Dancers are allowed to use this beautiful hall to trade for our donation to the church!
Just Dance is a fun place to practice and learn new steps.  Ilene & Jim are always available to help and support you.   Looking forward to seeing you there!
contact Ilene for more information:  wingstodance@yahoo.com


Dance  Classes:   2023

Put Dancing on your New Year’s Resolution list!  Dancing is good for the body and mind.  Ballroom dancing is one of the best ways to prevent dementia – a scientific fact!   Being social increases longevity.  And, it’s just plain fun, fun, fun.   

We’ll be offering lots of new classes starting in January; keep posted!

For more information, click on the “classes” tab under the header photo!

Wednesdays . . .

Introduction to Ballroom Dance will be held every Wednesday from March 8 to April 12, 2023 from 6 to 7 p.m. at our home studio, The Dance Castle, 23496 Gold Springs Dr., Columbia, CA.
“Learn to dance three dances in six lessons! First-time dancers will learn three social dances: waltz, foxtrot, and rumba in six hours. You will be able to dance socially right away. Join the dance community while having fun, getting exercise, and fighting dementia (yes, it’s been proven!). No partner or dance experience necessary.”
It’s $50 per person for all 6 classes.  We’ve introduced hundreds of people to dance and can’t wait to get you started!
Register online at the Columbia College website: 
Introduction to Swing Dance will be held every Wednesday from March 8 to April 12, 2023 from 7 to 8 p.m. at our home studio, The Dance Castle, 23496 Gold Springs Dr., Columbia, CA
“Swing is the most popular and useful dance in Tuolumne County. You will be out dancing in six weeks to 40s, 50s, Big Band, country-western, and popular music. Join the other dancers at events like Concert in the Pines, Concert in the Parks, Columbia Street Dance, and other events. This course is for first-time dancers and anyone wanting to have fun, get exercise and learn single-rhythm East Coast Swing. Optional field trips will be encouraged to help you get out and dance.”
The Swing class is $50 per person for all 6 classes.   Learn to Swing Dance and join the 100’s of other dancers at local events!
Register online at the Columbia College website:
Check out all the Community Ed classes being offered at Columbia College:

Hot Salsa Friday!

with Erika & Tom

Continuing every other week

March 24th  Classes:

6 p.m – 7 p.m.:  Technique Class: Understanding and improving framing and connection

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.:  Salsa Dance Pattern

Note: Depending on the level of students, this may turn in to an advanced beginning or intermediate class.

Cost:   $10/person/class, or $15/person for both classes

For questions, please contact Tom at sonorasalsaclub@gmail.com 


Folk Dance Classes at The Dance Castle:

Save the first and third Mondays at 7 p.m. for Folk Dancing, starting in May!

Here are more Monday classes, not on the regular schedule:

NEXT CLASS will be on Monday, March 27th from 7-9 p.m. at The Dance Castle.  We’re also meeting on Monday, April 3rd. 

note:  no class on April 17th.

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!  There is no charge to be with this fun group!


Tuesday Swing Classes,

Lindy Hop and Swing Fundamentals

Our new instructor, Natasha, will be teaching East Coast Swing and Lindy Hop with Michael Marangio.  Natasha’s passion is dancing Lindy Hop.  Previous swing dance experience recommended.

Tuesdays, on-going, 5:30-6:30 p.m.:  Fundamentals of Swing.  This class is a first building block to learn swing dance.  Students will learn the east coast swing steps and the Charleston and multiple turns from an open position to a closed position.   $10/person/class. 

Tuesdays, on-going, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.:  Beginning Lindy Hop.  The Lindy Hop is the ballroom dance considered to be the father of all swing dances. It is known for its athletic style and can contain aerial jumps, twists, and flips. It was named for Charles Lindbergh’s (Lucky Lindy) transatlantic flight and popular in the 1930s.


The Dance Pavilion

Our “outdoor dance studio and events area!”


We are planning to have 2023 galas!   More details to come!


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 . . . .


Inspiring videos for our next flash mob! (the second video takes great creative liberties with the basic steps (fun!):


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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