A man of Valor Ron Montez
by Elita Sohmer Clayman

Ron and Karla Montez

What can I say about Ron Montez that probably has not been said already? I first met him in 1982 in Miami Beach, Florida at the Grand National competition run by Gary Carvin. Ron and his professional partner Elizabeth Curtis were the judges. I won my first five trophies there and you could say that I have always loved Ron for that. That would not be entirely true, because I have always adored him because of his dancing and his beautiful attitude towards the amateur competitors.

He always spoke to us with respect and honor and gave us the power to improve ourselves and in his shadow we could try to follow. He is a man of valor and a man of vision. The two Vs are certainly his badge of integrity.

Recently an email dance friend Jeanie Swift of California was privileged to take a private lesson from Ron. Jeanie and her husband never had lessons. He would lead and she would follow and that was fine for those times. They did it for about four years before he got sick and then he had a stroke and she took care of him for ten years. Finally, she had to put him in a nursing home. She started to take group lessons in ballroom dancing. One day she read my article in the Amateur Dancers magazine and I inspired her. I answered her email and encouraged her to take private lessons. Thank God for Elita, she said, you have complimented me and encouraged me to the point she is entering the Emerald Ball in May 2007.She has worked hard and will be entered as an intermediate Bronze and Full Bronze participant. She had been alone in her new life when her husband was put in the home and her decision to dance was emboldened by her reading of my columns.

Ron & Jeanie

She said that Ron Montez is the finest instructor in the world. He made her feel like a princess and he understood her level and his lead made her look better than she is. He is soft spoken and informative in his instruction and he was able to immediately explain to her even the smallest thing and how to do the step easier. She hopes to take more lessons in the future from him. Her current dance coach is Steve Brush and she loves the way Steve encourages her in this dancing activity.

I interviewed Ron on the phone for this article on October 19th, 2006. It is not always easy to do phone interviews but I felt like Ron and I were friends from many years ago even though I had not seen him since 1982. Believe me, if I were living near him I would be taking lessons from him quite often because his manner and demeanor surely as Jeanie said can make you feel like a princess or even a queen.

Betty P. Wilson of Florida, another email dance friend of mine wrote to me that she also took lessons from him at the Brigham Young dance camp in 1995, She said Ron is nice, friendly and of course a terrific ballroom instructor. Through the years she has had many great teachers and unfortunately she cannot remember their names. She said she will never forget the name of Ron Montez. He also came to her Arthur Murray studio in Orlando, Florida a couple of time in the late eighties and she danced with him then too. These are the best testimonials a person can reap. Students that remember you with great fondness are the anchors of our dance communities.
Ron has a dance camp in San Diego every summer and he resides in Arizona now with his wife Karla and their three children. He started out because his sister Bettina Montez was a dance teacher and she and her husband also a teacher inspired Ron to dance.He now works independently and travels all over the country to do coaching and dance camps and competitions and teaches on cruises. He is doing a dance cruise in August to the Mediterranean. The children are ages ten, sixteen and twenty.

Ron is truly a family man and when he is not teaching he loves the outdoors a lot. He is not interested in owning his own studio at the present time because studio hours are long and time consuming and that would take him away from his family too much. He believes in spending time with the children and Karla. Karla and Rons tapes on learning to ballroom dance are on dancevision.com. The dance camp runs from December 27th-31st in San Diego, California.

Recently, he was on the television program So You Think You Can Dance. It was all forms of dance and he was a choreographer for some of the ballroom dance numbers. Ron has been around for a long time in the dance community. He is admired not only by his students but by his peers.

Ron is involved with Dance Vision and creates DVDs of instruction for folks to learn ballroom dancing. He has done more teaching and judging and Dance Vision, organizes events and is an examiner for people who want to get credentials as teachers and regular ballroom dancers who want certificates of accomplishment for their dancing.

Ron is an accomplished competitor, judge and a real darling of a person. He loves Arizona where he now resides. Rons home is not full of the many trophies or pictures in view. I am sure if they were prominent the walls would be full of them as Ron has won many awards and competitions in his career. He is unpretentious and very gracious.

I found it a dream come true to interview him via the phone and if I lived in that part of the country, I would be a student of his. His ability and gentleness in his teaching manner is indeed a momentous happening. He is modest and unassuming and when Jeanie Swift had her lesson with him, she was overwhelmed with his understanding of the point in time she was in with her dancing ability.

There are teachers and then there are the special teachers who touch our lives with their compassion towards us and their desire for us to succeed. We have encountered them in our school and college years and even in this sport of ballroom dancing. We can remember with joy the ones who stimulated a spark in our minds and hearts. These teachers remain forever in our soul for the energizing and scintillating advantage they give to us. We benefit from their motivating us to continue and to do our best.

I have not had the privilege of taking a lesson from Ron Montez but I did profit from dancing before him in a competition when I was first starting out doing dance competing.
His kind manner when I was dancing in a professional-amateur setting invigorated me to continue on competing and to try and excel. When you are in a setting that makes you want to be a winner and you look around and the judging staff have a smile on their faces or a nod towards the group vying for the awards, it is pleasant to see the demeanor of the adjudicators being amicable.

To sum up the career of Ron Montez, one could say he is truly a man of valor full of courage in a world of ballroom dance and one who has accomplished so much and has made ballroom dancing a sophisticated form of beauty and vision. He has helped many students to reap the benefits of trying and realizing their goals and becoming triumphant in a sport-hobby that could look from the outside of being a fearful activity. Instead a coach like Ron instills greatness and happiness in his students and he shows them the way to a special ascent up a peak of beauty that we call ballroom dancing.

In my all time favorite movie Love Is a Many Splendored Thing starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones that was popular in the early sixties, William Holden said to her that we have not missed you and I, we have had the many splendored thing.

Truly having a coach and visionary as Ron Montez is shows us that there is a many splendored thing. This activity named ballroom dancing gives to us dancers from every age group the moment in time of great brilliance. There is brightness and luster and grandeur when we have a coach like Ron. Surely, we have not missed with knowing him either as a judge, a coach or as a human being. Ron Montez is our many splendored person.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
Baltimore, Maryland
May 2007

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