Fancy footwork

Pat and Rick Walker, of the Village of DeSoto, dance together as they learn rumba during the “Ballroom: Level 1 Latin Rhythms” class at Allamanda Recreation Center.

Ballroom dancing is a gift couples can give to each other, dance teacher Geri Conrad said.

Conrad teaches a dozen dance classes for The Enrichment Academy, including Level I Latin Rhythms or Rhumba and Level I Ballroom Slow, which began Thursday.

Night Club Slow, Rock ’n’ Roll Swing, Baby Boomer Level I classes by Conrad are also in TEA’s current course catalog. TEA registration is available online at and at any regional recreation center.

The Enrichment Academy is a continuing-education program of fee-based, extra-curriculum courses for Villages residents and nonresidents. It started in October 2017 and offers hundreds of classes covering subjects such as art, dance, health and wellness, language, music, photography, technology and writing. The classes are held at recreation centers throughout The Villages.

Dancing together is easier than many people expect, Conrad said.

“You don’t have to be excellent as long as you get to the point where you enjoy each other,” she said.

All a man needs to remember is the steps and to stay in rhythm to the music, Conrad said.

“If the man steps on her foot, it’s her fault for not following and getting her foot out of the way,” she said. “The best place to practice rhumba is barefoot on the beach.”

Conrad, of the Village of Calumet Grove, usually teaches dance with her husband, John, who is recovering from an injury. She had Gary Easton, of the Village Hacienda, assist last week.

Dancing well requires give-and-take and patience with each other, but once couples have that, they will have something no one can take away. And they will be admired by other couples, she said.

Dave and Alice Wells, of the Village of Hemingway, had something like admiration in mind when they signed up for rhumba and ballroom courses.

They are practicing for their son’s wedding and reception in May, they said.

“We’re really throwing ourselves into this crash course,” Alice said.

“As long as we can dance better than the in-laws, then we’ll have met our goals,” Dave added.

 “I think we may get it if we do our homework,” he said after the first class, when Conrad assigned students to practice their rhumba box and Cuban walk steps five minutes a day by themselves, without their partners.

He said he thought Conrad explained the dances well.

“She gave excellent cues,” Alice added.

Learning Latin dances was easier than Rick and Pat Walker, of the Village of DeSoto, said they expected.

“We’ve taken East Coast swing, which was much more complicated,” Pat said.

“We’ll practice and be back,” Rick said.

James and Patricia Walenczak, of the Village of Pine Ridge, were getting into the rhythm.

“I’m having a great time,” James said. “I love it.”

Staff writer Dayna Straehley can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5408, or