Born and raised in Santa Ana, California, OC girl Rose Marie Benjamin first began dancing as a teenager at family parties in her living room. Dancing Cumbia, Merengue and other latin street dances with family, who influenced her love for music, dance and art. She didn’t officially start dance training until November 2012 when a friend challenged her to learn Salsa (in just a few months) for a baby’s Baptism party. So she went to ATOMIC where welcoming staff set her up with a sample private lesson and she was instantly hooked!

Upon retiring from work Rose Marie tried dances such as Cha-Cha, Bachata, Rumba, and even a bit of Foxtrot, Waltz, Quickstep and Nightclub Two-Step. She feels that her body and soul are becoming a Tapper and Lindy Hopper! “Some people say it can’t be done (creating a Lindy-hopper out of a Salsera),” so instructors James and Natalia are helping her prove them wrong! With an already full calendar, dancing 3 times per week, she also practices Flamenco, and is interested in learning Balboa, Shag and Argentine Tango.

On how dance has impacted her life, Rose Marie states, “Dancing has made me more courageous to become who I’ve always been, and I am continuously discovering who that is.” She feels that dance aids her dreams and goals by providing a sense of living a life of continuous challenge and watching her own progress as she struggles. Her greatest personal challenge is performance on stage, so she has risen to that challenge year after year by participating in ATOMIC’s annual showcase. “Dance is Life! As long as I am progressing, I am growing as a human being,” she proudly proclaimed.

“An ultimate goal is to connect body and soul to the music, to my partner in complete harmony, to feel the energy of sheer joy flowing through my body, to be the best version of Rose Marie that God created me for while I am on this earth. Dance provides me all the challenges I need to achieve this. My personal achievement has been to stop comparing myself to other dancers or to care what others think of me. My challenge is to ‘dance Rose Marie’s Dance,’ and that has taken me years to discover what that is. I guess I dance to achieve ever fluctuating objectives related to physical training, strength and flexibility, emotional and social wisdom, also courage, intellectual focus, memory, empathy and communication. It’s a complicated journey and I’m always learning and always humbled.”


Rose Marie eagerly explains that there is no end to the litany of the benefits she’s experienced as a result of dancing. Some of the greatest have been: helping her to confront social anxiety, meeting good people, and presenting her with challenges that allow her to overcome weakness from a prior injury. Luckily she hasn’t had a major injury since then.

As a recent retiree, Rose Marie defies the common perception that one could be too old for vigorous activity or to have a fun night out on the town. She explained that “Age is a number used to create boundaries around your potential as a human being. As a body ages, its limitations are only as restrictive as the mind accepts and allows. Age has absolutely nothing to do with your physical ability, your potential for change and improvement, or growth. Fear is the worst enemy. I have seen students at ATOMIC who are blind, in wheel chairs, recovering from strokes and have difficulty walking. What moves them is like sharpening a blade, the more you dance, the sharper your blade becomes; exercise enhances physical ability and the more often you do it, the more you want to do it and the easier it becomes.” She continued, “Maybe dance inspires you to walk more or to get yourself personal training to strengthen your body. Dancing sharpens your memory and focus and you begin to notice other areas of your life reaping the benefits. Dancing helps you feel alive and connected to yourself, becoming more self aware and soon you see your relationships improving. The joy of living does not end when you reach a certain chronological number – unless you make that choice.” She believes that those who think that they’re too old to dance or do other things have allowed the opinions of others to place limitations on their experience of joy in their life.

Rose Marie can’t imagine her life without dance and could only foresee slowing down in the event of a major economic or personal setback. Otherwise, she has no doubt that she will always dance (one way or another), especially as she has invested her most precious resources – her time, money and her heart into dancing. Rose Marie loves dancing at ATOMICbecause of the wide range of dancing opportunities provided and plethora of dances to choose from. She added, “I also love dancing here because of the integrity of my teachers, the level of their knowledge and their dedication to self improvement. They inspire me and I love them.”

Since dance has brought so much joy to Rose Marie’s life, she says that she would encourage others to try it to get out of the house, meet people and because it’s a fun escape! She insists that people not be afraid to try as, “You’ll see by joining group classes that everyone makes mistakes and no one is looking at you! Begin by giving yourself a one or two month trial period. After that, reevaluate and do some quiet reflection. It’s a personal decision. Dancing should give you more joy in your life. If it does, keep doing it!”



Rose Marie is a retired psychologist, a DIY-er, a private pilot, and gardener who loves to cook, bake and travel.

Something people would be surprised to learn about you? 

“I am an Introvert but I love to throw parties. I love people but hate social events where I don’t know anybody. Social dancing scares me to death. I am a home-body so love being home and love wine and tequila.”

What else would you be doing if not dancing in dance/at Atomic?

“Probably flying small aircraft out of John Wayne Airport to eat those ‘$100 hamburgers’ ($150 by now!)”

What is your guilty pleasure? 

“I don’t feel guilt over any pleasure!”

Favorite life lesson?

“Never ever, ever, ever give up!” -Winston Churchill