On a spring day in 2005, Valley resident Monika Barska was looking for work as a dance instructor \u2014 and found the man who would turn out to be the love of her life. On Feb. 8, Barska and fianc\u00e9 Henry Skopp celebrated the grand opening of their joint venture, a Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Southport. Their wedding is planned for this October. It all began when Barska called the Trumbull branch of Fred Astaire Dance Studios. Her dance partner at the time had decided to work at a studio in Stamford, and that was far from Barska\u2019s home in Derby. \u201cI was commuting to Stamford from Derby [to work],\u201d Barska said. She needed a job that was more convenient. When she called the studio in Trumbull, she was told to go in and fill out an application. She did. \u2018Love at first site\u2019 \u201cIt was love at first sight,\u201d said Skopp, owner of the Trumbull studio. He was mesmerized. \u201cShe was very attractive,\u201d Skopp said. \u201cI was like, oh my gosh.\u201d But he gave Barska a different impression. \u201cHe interviewed me and then I didn\u2019t hear back,\u201d Barska said. So after two weeks and no word, Barska took the bull by the horns and called the studio. \u201cI was a top teacher, my students were winning [competitions],\u201d she said. She did not understand why they hadn\u2019t called. \u201cI didn\u2019t want to hire her because she was so pretty,\u201d Skopp said. \u201cI thought it would be dangerous, I thought I should let her go.\u201d But he also thought she would be good for business since she was so attractive and had the necessary skills. \u201cShe called and I couldn\u2019t say no,\u201d Skopp said. He told her to start that Monday morning. Boy chases girl Flash forward nearly two years to just before Valentine\u2019s Day 2007. Barska\u2019s favorite singer, Kim Wilde, was going on tour \u2014 3,500 miles away from Trumbull, in Europe. \u201cShe had been my favorite singer since I was 10 years old,\u201d Barska said. Barska, originally from Poland, had seen Wilde perform there twice as a kid. \u201cI told [Skopp] I was so excited,\u201d Barska said. But between the distance and the fact that the tour was sold out, it did not look good for the long-time fan. Skopp \u2014 who had loved Barska from afar since they met \u2014 had been biding his time. And the timing seemed right, since Barska had finally broken up with her boyfriend and was single. \u201cI respected her,\u201d Skopp said. \u201cI was always kind of worried she thought I was pushing.\u201d But he did not let that stop him. He took the opportunity of Barska\u2019s newly single status to declare just how much he cared. A front door surprise Skopp asked a French-speaking student to help him navigate a ticket broker in France and purchased two tickets to Wilde\u2019s Paris concert. And on Valentine\u2019s Day, he let his admiration out of the bag for good. Skopp took a bouquet of roses and tickets for the romantic trip of a lifetime to Barska\u2019s front door. He was not quite bold enough to present them personally \u2014 he left them there instead. What Barska found on her doorstep made her speechless. There were two concert tickets and two round-trip plane tickets so that Barska could see her favorite singer. And Skopp was hoping she would want him to go with her. Barska was nervous. \u201cI knew he was a nice guy, but he was my boss,\u201d Barska said. Still, she wanted him to go with her \u2014 with one somewhat tongue-in-cheek question lingering. \u201cI asked if I\u2019m going to have to marry you now,\u201d Barska said. Not quite yet \u2026 Girl gets to know boy Skopp and Barska had a great time in Paris. \u201cI got to meet [Wilde] after the concert,\u201d Barska said. Her father had bought Barska her first Kim Wilde album, and she called her parents after the show. \u201cI called my parents from Paris and said I just met her,\u201d Barska said. Skopp and Barska came back as friends \u2014 with potential. \u201cI started to notice feelings [for Skopp] a few months later,\u201d Barska said. \u201cI started to pay more attention to him.\u201d And what she noticed was a good person. So she set out to break down her walls to be open to him. \u201cHe was a nice guy who really cared about me,\u201d Barska said. It took a few months until they started dating. \u201cI don\u2019t remember an official starting date,\u201d Barska said. \u201cWe just started going out \u2014 to dinner, movies and walks.\u201d They got engaged in 2008. They love \u2026 to dance Barska was born in Wroclaw, Poland, and lived there until she moved to Derby in 1994 to live with her parents. Her parents had moved to the United States six years earlier, leaving Barska to be raised by her grandparents in Poland during the interim. She was an only child. \u201cIt made me grow up,\u201d Barska said. She attended tech school in Poland and studied chemistry. In Connecticut, she graduated from Derby High School. After high school, she started looking for something to do. In Poland, she had begun dancing with her cousins. \u201cI went to the studio one time and didn\u2019t want to stop,\u201d she said. In Europe, dancing is part of the culture, she said, and they start at about age 5. \u201cI would like it to be like that here,\u201d Barska said. She started teaching in 1997 at a studio in Stratford. And hasn\u2019t stopped. From painting to dancing Skopp always liked to dance. \u201cSince I was a kid,\u201d he said. But he never had formal training. In 1997, his opportunity to teach dance arrived. He was self-employed as a painting contractor at the time. \u201cIt would be slow in winter and I would have to lay off employees,\u201d he said. \u201cThen in summer I would have to rehire.\u201d That winter, he saw an ad looking for dance teachers. \u201cMy mom said growing up, \u2018You like to dance, you can always teach dance,\u2019\u201d Skopp recalled. He replied to the ad but did not think they would pick him since he had little experience. He was wrong. They hired Skopp and trained him for about three or four months. At first he taught beginners. Teacher to manager to owner He knew that his painting days were numbered. \u201cI knew right away,\u201d Skopp said. Instead of being outside, he could be indoors in air conditioning. \u201cAnd I got paid to be with people,\u201d he said. Within one year, he was out of the painting business completely, and dedicated to dance. After about three years he became the studio\u2019s top teacher. \u201cThey realized my potential,\u201d Skopp said. He started to manage the studio, and in 2002, he purchased the studio. \u201cIf you love what you do, you don\u2019t go to work a day in your life,\u201d Skopp said. Dancing in Southport Skopp wanted to open a Fred Astaire franchise in Fairfield and found the space at 3300 Post Road in Fairfield\u2019s Southport section last fall. He sold his Trumbull studio in October and signed a lease for his current space that same month. Skopp and Barska are 50\/50 partners in the business. It is Barska\u2019s first time owning and running a business. \u201cIt\u2019s a big change, more than I thought,\u201d she said. \u201cIt\u2019s an adjustment,\u201d Skopp said. \u201cNow I have to run everything by her.\u201d They are currently the primary teachers at the school, but have staff lined up. The studio offers lessons in ballroom and Latin dance. They can train dancers for competition, fun, or the all-important wedding first dance. They will have a master class for the latter when they tie the knot this fall. Information about the studio is available at dancefairfield.com or 203-254-8250.