PITTSTON — When Barbara Shock of Duryea met ballroom dance teacher, Joseph Kull, she told him flat out “I have two left feet.”
“He said, ‘Take your two left feet and come in,’ ” Shock said, explaining she was grateful for the encouragement.
“He’s a good teacher, and I love dancing,” she added, smiling as she watched friends waltz across the floor at the Area Agency on Agency’s senior center in Pittston and awaited her turn. “In my mind, I could be a princess.”
Now, when it comes to dancing, even princesses have problems. Think of Cinderella whose magical ball gown turned into rags, or Ariel, who had a fish tail instead of legs.
Folks in the senior center’s weekly dance class likewise have their share of challenges — from recent hip surgery to sciatica flare-ups, that might make a less determined group shy away from the rhumba, cha cha, merengue and waltz.
“I have 38 pins in my ankle, a rod in my leg and a plate in my heel,” Shock said, explaining doctors thought she might never walk again after she slipped on black ice and spent six months in a hospital bed.
Yet the dancers show up each Friday afternoon to enjoy the camaraderie, the music, and the chance to learn something new.
“It puts you in a good mood, doesn’t it?” dancer Nicki Briggs of Exeter said after twirling around the floor with Frank Tokash of Avoca as a recording of Anne Murray’s velvety voice sang “Could I Have This Dance For the Rest of My Life.”
“You could be in a bad mood but when you hear this music it puts you in a different frame of mind,” Briggs said.
The dancing helps your mind and body in various ways, Kull said, pointing out dancers are not only building physical strength and burning calories but engaging their brains as they remember the steps.
Kull, of Swoyersville, who is retired from AT&T, said he started hoofing it as “a kid in jukebox joints” before learning the finer points of ballroom dance, which he “picked up here and there.”
Teaching at the senior center is very satisfying, he said. “It’s something I like to do myself, and I like to see the students enjoy themselves and make progress.”
Older adults pay $2 to take a ballroom dance class at the Pittston senior center, where it is one of several weekly exercise classes. Other Area Agency on Aging centers throughout the region also have full schedules of activities from walking to aerobics to yoga.
Before she took the class, Shock said, the thought her “two left feet” made her feel scared to dance in front of other people. She soon discovered there was no reason to to be shy.
“We’re all friends,” she said, “and we’re all rooting for everybody.”