Let's Dance

the dancerBy Laura B. Teter ~

Do you love to dance but don’t know where to strut your stuff? Do you find yourself staring enviously at the dance floor during weddings? Are you looking for a new way to spice up your relationship?

The Lehigh Valley has a community to accommodate all dancers and wannabe dancers. Whether your passion is tango, salsa, swing or ballet, there are events, open dances and classes to suit you and your level of experience.

Easton’s Main Street Initiative hosts “Dancing on the Thirds” the third Friday of every month at Third Street Alliance, 41 North Third Street, Easton. Lessons are held from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. followed by Open Dancing from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. The cost is $10.00 per person, ($5.00 for students). According to Kim Kmetz, manager of Easton’s Main Street Initiative, the events attract dancers of all levels and ages from college students to those well into their eighties. Originally, the dances attracted a core group of 40 or 50 people when first offered in May 2007; today the events regularly draw more than 80 dancers. A variety of dance is taught month to month including the hustle, country two-step, cha-cha, salsa and tango. For those dancers who just can’t get enough, dances have also been scheduled during the months where a fifth Friday exists.

Think you need to go to South America to learn to tango? Not according to Sharon Hillman, and she should know. Sharon is the founder and creator of the Lehigh Valley Tango Society, which promotes a variety of Argentine Tango events, most notably Allentown’s “Tango in the Park,” held in West Park Monday evenings in July.

Hillman was introduced to Argentine Tango nearly 10 years ago. After helping establish the tango scene in Denver and then teaching it full time in Buenos Aires for several years, Sharon returned to the Lehigh Valley in 2005 and began creating a tango community in her hometown. To become proficient in Argentine Tango, three steps are essential: Fundamental lessons, which Sharon teaches once a year, for a 10-12 week period; practice sessions, called practicas, follow the lessons and are weekly opportunities to work on newly-learned steps. According to Hillman, the practicas are the key to becoming a skilled tango dancer. These practice sessions provide an opportunity to dance with a variety of partners which is distinctive to Argentine Tango. Unlike some other dance styles, the accomplished tango dancer does not rely on the same partner. In fact, the “hunt for the perfect dance partner and dance experience” is inherent in Argentine Tango, conveys Hillman. The third step of the Argentine Tango experience is the milongas, or dances, which are galas the Tango Society offers monthly throughout the year.

If swing is more your thing, the Allentown Area Swing Dance Society (AASDS) offers a variety of opportunities. A nonprofit group that “exists to promote swing dancing in the Greater Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Area,” AASDS welcomes dancers of all levels and experience but places special emphasis on working with beginners. The Society, formed in 1999, holds weekly lessons and events throughout the year at the Starlite Ballroom in the Fearless Fire Company, 1221 Front Street, Allentown. Lessons are Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., followed by open dancing. The cost is $7.00 per person. A four-week beginner course is also available. While instruction focuses primarily on swing, (which includes East and West Coast) hustle, nightclub two-step, country waltz and salsa, events and lessons may also include the cha-cha and fox trot. Tuesday evening attendance is typically between 100 and 120 people, who come from as far as Philadelphia, Scranton, Harrisburg, New Jersey and New York. According to John Thoder, board president, “the reason we have been so successful is because it’s a lot of fun and there is no partner necessary.” In addition, Thoder credits the 10-member board of passionate volunteers with the Society’s continued success.

For more traditional instruction, both area community colleges offer an array of non-credit dance courses. Northampton Community College offers adult dance programs in ballet, ballroom dancing, swing, line dancing and belly dancing. Lehigh Carbon Community College’s schedule includes ballroom dancing, salsa and belly dancing. According to Barbara Platt, community services coordinator at LCCC, “the dance classes are very popular and fill up quickly – especially ballroom dancing.” Classes are available in all skill levels, Monday though Saturday, at reasonable fees.

Whether you are interested in learning the sensual art of tango, are in need of some ballroom lessons for an upcoming event or you are simply looking for a fun venue to kick up your heels, the Lehigh Valley dance community awaits you.

For more information and schedules, visit the following websites:

Dancing on the Thirds

LV Tango Society

Allentown Area Swing Society

Northampton Community College

Lehigh Carbon Community College:

Laurie Teter is a “cocktail inspired” dancer but has been intrigued by researching this article and looks forward to getting formal training.

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