Dance, dance, dance
Clayton, Henry seniors learn Fox Trot, Rumba

By Curt Yeomans


One. Two. Three. Four.

One. Two. Three. Four.

One. Two.

One. Two.

One. Two.

Ten senior citizens from Clayton and Henry counties hear their ball room dancing teacher, Yvonne Bertram, count repeatedly as the students practice the Box step, and then the Half-Box Step.

The seniors are learning the Box Step as the first step in learning how to do the Fox Trot. The box step is the core movement of the dance, and thus, where Bertram begins her ball room dancing class. The students will also learn how to do the Rock Step, the Cha-Cha, and the Rumba.

Some of the students have taken the class two, or three times, and Bertram wonders how she can keep the class from becoming repetitive for those.

"I'm thinking about splitting the class up in two halves, one basic class and one advanced class," Bertram said. "I don't want to hold the students, who have been taking the class for a while, back. They are doing so well."

Bertram teaches the class every Wednesday at the Charlie Griswell Senior Center. She is now teaching her third, five-week session, and some of her students have been with her since last fall.

Emmett Smith, 74 of Jonesboro, is one of those students taking the class for the third time. He started it for fun, and to meet new people. He kept signing up because he started having so much fun with it.

"I'm not really a dancer, I don't have any formal training," said Smith. "There are improvements, now. We'll just leave it at that."

Ball room dancing is not all about the feet, and students, like Smith, have to learn how to use their hands as well. When a couple is dancing, the person who takes the lead will press forward with hisr hand to tell their partner to move backward. When one partner is doing something wrong during a dance, he or she will receive a firm grasp from the partner to point out the problem.

"The hands are very important, because you use them to give directions," Bertram said. "That's ballroom dancing."

Ramona De Leon, one of Smith's dancing partners in the class, said the use of hands helps to make sure the couple is moving smoothly on the dance floor.

"The lead [dancer] is very important because he keeps you from making mistakes," said De Leon, who is taking the class for the second time.

Jan Houtsma, 65, of Jonesboro, was attending the class for the first time on Wednesday. She picked it up because she wanted to learn something new, and she felt ball room dancing would give her some exercise.

"I want to learn the Fox Trot," Houtsma said. "I just need to learn how to do the half-steps."