September 30, 2016

Shall We Dance Says “I Know Jo, Do You?”

By Jo Mixon

Shall We Dance w/ Diane Peterson

Shall We Dance? Yes please! Not only did I get to interview Angel Fire’s own dance professional Diane Peterson, but I was also invited to dance with her ballet and tap classes on Thursday night. In the ballet class, the emphasis seemed to be on stretching and toning muscles, long graceful movement, and core body strength. The ladies in class made it look so artful as they glided effortlessly across the floor! I have to tell you that I felt totally uncoordinated and awkward. But they assured me I could gain the same agility with only a few more lessons. Hmm, me?

Next Diane outfitted me with a pair red tap shoes. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I immediately started to giggle and tap my toes. My happy feet became uncontrollable, and I just had to dance! Pam Hasford says it best, “Tap Dance brings out the little girl in me!” After a few shuffles and instruction, I watched the ladies’ routine as they swaggered around the studio to the music. They were all having so much fun! Why would adult women want to take ballet or tap classes? Because it is so much fun! I asked them and they all agreed; It’s great exercise, its social, and because Diane refers to all of her students as girls – and that alone is worth a million bucks! Dancing helps make you feel young, chic, a part of something where everyone has a good time, and tap dancers have more rhythm!

The dancers from Shall We Dance perform their routines around the Angel Fire area. This year they danced at the New Mexico State Garden Club Convention, the Catholic Church Annual Dinner Dance, and at area nursing homes. Diane says if the crowd sees we aren’t afraid to get out there and ham it up, why should they? And she always reminds her dancers, young or mature, “Everywhere we go, especially nursing homes and hospitals, its not about being the best dancer, its about being the best ‘smiler,’ because for us it’s about bringing a little sunshine into other peoples lives.” Diane says that dance instills self-respect, self-discipline, and confidence. And may I add, it’s a great workout!

Diane told me she had never been to the southwest when a friend suggested she would probably love it. So she and husband Pete came to Angel Fire three times and stayed in a time share lodging before they decided this was the place they wanted to live. They had not yet retired when they purchased their first two condos (one for them and one for Diane’s mother). Now they all share a home together. When Diane came permanently to Angel Fire almost seven years ago, she first had to make the decision to retire. Diane became a dancer as a toddler. She has danced and choreographed professionally with companies throughout the Chicago area and in New York. She operated her own dance studio prior to partnering with her friend of thirty years, Pat Foster, when they became co-owners of Dance Connection, in Grayslake, Illinois. They operated the Dance Connection studio for 20 years.

But total retirement was NEVER in Diane’s frame of mind. When she moved to Angel Fire, she opened Shall We Dance Studio where she has taught dance to youth and adults, Ballet, Tap, and Ballroom. She currently teaches adult women’s classes. Ballet classes are held on Thursday evenings from 4:30 to 5:30, tap from 5:30 to 6:30, and beginner’s tap from 6:30 to 7:30 – plus she is also available to teach private ballroom classes. Diane says, “We exercise, learn routines, laugh a lot, yet always feel accomplished and great when we leave class.” And she added, “The person who said I would love the southwest was right!”

Diane’s students at Shall We Dance are (in alphabetical order by first name); Barbara Thorn, Carol Lindenblatt, Connie Kalweit, Dawn Guenther, Deanna Babb, Fannie Mackie, J.J. Huddleston, Judy Feffer, Kathy Crissman, Pam Hasford, and one-time student (at least for now) Jo Mixon.

Diane wants all the ladies out there to know they are welcome to join her dance team. Classes for three weeks cost $30.00 or $12.00 per class. Shall We Dance is moving to the Angel Fire Community Center soon. For more information call Diane at 575-377-2443.

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