- Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (AP) - Couples sidestepped, backstepped and box-stepped in each other’s arms across the floor of an activity room as music played at the Cass County Council on Aging.

Some came to learn while others have been dancing for decades, but all attested the new dance class makes for a fun activity.

The class had its second session Friday, Jan. 13. Boone Sumantri, the instructor, started off by standing before his seated students while giving them a quick review of the previous week’s lesson. Complete with demonstrations, he briefed them on proper posture, reminded them to stand on the balls of their feet rather than the heels and explained how to achieve the proper “frame” when linking up with their partners.

Next Sumantri lined up his students to practice dance steps without their partners. He went over the appropriate pacing of the steps and the different responsibilities of the partners in a dance, which Rosemarie Fettig provided her insight on during a break.

“The man is supposed to make the woman look good,” she said.

When they hit the dance floor, the students exhibited their knowledge of the foxtrot and promenade.

Diane Spore, activities director for the Cass County Council on Aging, said, “Looking good!” as she manned the boombox. Dancers followed each successful round with laughter and applause. Sumantri encouraged his students to practice together at home.

To teach the class, Sumantri uses the notes he took when learning to dance about 40 years ago when he lived in Gardena, California.

“What’s important in learning is to learn well enough so that you can share,” he said.

The 89-year-old said along with dancing he also fences, rides horses and exercises. He said maintaining a variety of activities helps preserve his health and vigor for life.

“It’s good to keep doing, otherwise you’re going to lose it,” he said.

Rosemarie’s husband, Francis Fettig, praised Sumantri’s teaching style after Friday’s lesson.

“People don’t realize that this man is a very good instructor,” Francis said. “What he’s giving them normally should cost them quite a bit of money.”

Francis said he and Rosemarie have been dancing for over 30 years, adding they once won the senior division of a ballroom dancing competition in Colorado Springs.

He likened dancing to rollerskating.

“Dancing is just like skating, it’s like you never even touch the floor,” Francis said. “You go out there and if you’re really on it, you float across the floor, it’s beautiful. It’s an out-of-body experience, it really is.”

Having his wife for a dance partner makes it all the better, he continued.

“I want to hold a gorgeous woman, there’s nothing like a beautiful woman,” he said.

For Francis, dancing contributes to a recreational lineup of fishing, sport shooting and traveling.

“Life is fun if you just play it,” he said. “…My family always said there was something wrong with me because I played all my life. They were busy making tons of money and I was busy playing but having fun. I’m still having fun.”

Pete and Sara Walthery said they joined the class to learn to dance.

“We’ve been trying to dance together for 47 years and we haven’t known how,” Pete said.

Sara agreed.

“We got friends that play music and whenever we go to something that they’re playing, I always want to dance, but we don’t know how.”

The couple said after they found out their friend, Sumantri, was teaching a class in town, they decided to try it out.

“We’re just trying not to step on each other’s toes,” Sara said.

Sumantri said he intends to offer the free class all year to cover dances like the foxtrot, rumba, waltz, swing, tango and samba.


Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2jrOcIe


Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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