In 1912, a young man named Moses Teichmann began teaching dance in the evenings while working in an architectural office during the day. He was a fast learner, and by 1914 he had changed his name to Arthur Murray and had established himself as a leading teacher to members of the upper class.
Mr. Murray’s revolutionary use of advertising techniques attracted national attention. He sold dance lessons by mail, designing a dance instruction book that used the now-famous Arthur Murray footsteps.
The studio system itself grew out of a hotel manager’s request to have Arthur Murray-trained instructors available to all Statler hotels. By 1946 there were 72 studios, with more success to follow. During the 1950s, Arthur and Kathryn Murray began a television series entitled, “The Arthur Murray Dance Party,” a highly popular show that ran for 12 years on national television.
George Theiss Expands the Brand
In the early 1960s, the studios began a new era of social dancing in America, under the leadership of George B. Theiss and Philip S. Masters. Before leading the company, Mr. Theiss had enrolled as a student and quickly learned the Arthur Murray Magic Step method of learning. Mr. Theiss shares that “Murray’s Magic stayed with me. I loved the excitement, meeting new people, helping them become more confident of themselves, to go out and meet new people, to add spirit, joy and even fun and fitness to their lives.”
Theiss soon became one of Murray’s 300 studio franchisee owners and managers. His successful management and abilities to mix the fun of dancing, into a highly profitable business, continued as he acquired additional Arthur Murray studios in 24 other cities to become one of the major franchisees.
In 1964, Theiss, Masters and their associates purchased controlling stock interest in Arthur Murray, Inc. Together they provided the leadership, guidance and inspiration for the world’s largest dance instruction organization.
As successors to Arthur and Kathryn Murray, Theiss and Masters still assisted in the training and supervising of instructors and franchisees. Their closeness and association with the Murray’s for so many years has instilled the motivation to keep the best of the basics that popularized the company and continue to revitalize, update and try new ideas for studio management and encouraging student enrollment. Their marketing skills and leadership in recruitment of today’s new generation of dance studios has resulted in Arthur Murray studios being the name in social dancing the world over.
Presently, Arthur Murray International (AMI) directs an entire world of dance with studios in the Canada, United States, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, England, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Poland, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Ukraine. With over 200 studios worldwide and continually expanding, our students who travel can visit any other Arthur Murray franchise for lessons so they don’t have to stop dancing just because they are away from their home studio.
A Philosophy of Understanding People
The Arthur Murray philosophy of dancing holds that since people are all social and gregarious by nature, we seek pleasure in human contact and experience. The ultimate in psychological terror is loneliness which warps the personality and shrivels the spirit. There are many ways to unwind, to beat the stress and start to relax, enjoy and live… Dancing, throughout the ages, has become the art that brings people together and is an efficient method for developing a sense of adequacy for young and old alike. Consequently, man has always danced. “Dance” not only fills a basic need in man, but reflects those needs as time changes. “Dance” is undergoing evolution and change manifest in soft rock and the popularity of past, popular, retro dance styles where couples hold each other while dancing. The softer mood and less frantic gyrations also implies the need for dancers to learn how to move with each other.
It’s a return to the romantic, elegant styles and more practiced forms. It takes skill and learning and practice to be a good dance partner. Under the guidance of Arthur Murray, Inc., the studios have been teaching dance not as isolated feet or step movements, but as an integral part of social life, an expression and celebration of it.
Theiss moved dance from “apart, no touch” to “touch” dancing. Thirty years later, disco music influences are popular again with mainstream music and alongside that, the partner dance of the 70’s, the Hustle, is also seeing resurgence.
Taking Hold of the Growth of Latin Dance
AMI was the first to realize the growing popularity of the Latin Dances and introduced many to America’s dancers after holding many training sessions for Murray’s instructors in Cuba. Several AMI studio conventions were also held in Cuba in the 50′s to have the dance trainers learn first-hand the hot new Latin styles and moves then becoming in vogue.
“Too often” said Masters, “companies and their managers forgot what made them successful in the first place. We keep the enthusiasm and spirit of the concept of Mr. Murray alive, by constantly attracting young and dedicated people who start their career as teachers and dance trainers, grow on to be studio managers, regional managers or studio owners.” Masters is a most visible personality at Arthur Murray Super-Ramas and International Dance Competitions such as the prestigious United States Ballroom Championships.