By BARRY BARBE, Across the Street Columnist

As the summer season comes into full bloom, the afternoons become warmer, and the days become longer. Along with this is the annual migration to the Courthouse Plaza for events, art shows and of course, The Summer Concert Series.

This is a perfect time to spot the ever-elusive Plaza Dancers who whether two-stepping, waltzing or simply feeling the groove, add an extra level of festiveness to music under the stars.

If you are a regular or occasional participant in the Summer Concert Series produced by the Prescott Downtown Partnership, you may have caught a glimpse or two of the Dashing Retired Naval Officer, Michael McConell, and his equally striking dance partner, and wife, Monique.

Often spotted on Tuesday evenings for an evening of Jazz on the Square, the duo have a flair for Lindy Hop and Jazz that make you envious and joyful at the same time.

With a mutual appreciation and passion for all things musical, the two actually unknowingly crossed paths much earlier in life before meeting online.

Monique attended and graduated from PHS, while Michael was in Flagstaff. He was in a band, and she had a love for music and choir.

After high school, Monique attended Prescott College, where she received her teaching degree and taught all grades in Special Education, later becoming a non denominational minister directing choirs and music programs.

Her entry into the world of dance began early in life with tap, and modern, but it was later, while teaching, that she fell in love with Jazz and Lindy Hop. It was a fellow teacher who asked her if she knew how to dance and after a short lesson, the two attended a dance workshop, and the moves have not stopped since.

“It was a time when jazz and Lindy Hop especially were seeing a resurgence and I fell in love with it”

Meanwhile, Michael was in the middle of a 26 year naval career as a Seabee, having enlisted for the Submarine Force, serving for five years, and later entering the reserves. “I was a very active reservist,” Michael said. “Some serve on weekends or a couple weeks a year, but I served in various positions and locations including Iraq and Afghanistan, finishing up in DC until retiring as a Chief Petty Officer this spring.”

It was a night out with fellow Navy buddies that Michael learned the two- step while Monique was learning the Lindy Hop across the country back in Arizona.

It would take the internet to bring the two together, and eventually the courthouse plaza where they had their fist dance together.

Since their first introduction, which actually took place on a Friday Evening Dance at the Adult Center on Rosser, the two continue to dance, marry and own their own dance company, The Bees Knees Dance.

With instruction every Wednesday in the Elks Theater, Monique and Michael offer a wide range of dance instruction including Country Swing, Waltz, Rumba, Lindy Hop, and many more with the promise “If you come in with two left feet, we’ll make one right.”

In addition to cutting a rug together, Monique has a penchant for all things vintage and pin up. “A girlfriend of mine mentioned that she was going to be in a pin up girl contest, and as easy as that, I began doing pin up contests.” Monique Said

“When I first started, I was super shy and nervous, even after 20 years of classroom instruction, this was different. You have to be open, talk about yourself and it was just different. But I fell in love with and fortunately, Michael supports it”

In fact, the two are often found clad in similar coordinating style whether, dancing, or attending a pin up contest.

Monique was recently crowned “Miss Darling of the Dell’s” that took place earlier this year at the Grand Highland Courtyard on Whiskey Row. “It’s a great community of ladies who love Vintage clothing and the era, but more importantly support each other.”

While enjoying Michael’s retirement from the Navy, the couple continue to serve in a different manner, and closer to home as Dance Pros for Season 8 of Boys and Girls Club of Central Arizona’s “Dancing for the Stars” which take place at Yavapai College, Sept. 6 & 7. The couple is paired with Leslie Costes, and will be presenting an appropriate 1940s routine.

A Navy Seabee and his Pin up Girl, entertaining and teaching Prescott how to dance. — Truly the Bees Knees.

Jazz on the Square kicks off Tuesday, June 4 at 6:30 with The Goodwin Street Gang.

For more information:

Beeskneesdanceprescott.com;

Dancingforthestars.net;

The Bees Knees Dance on Face book.

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