Dance club stepping forward

HANAPEPE — With strains of “Moon River” emanating from the Hanapepe Neighborhood Center, dancers inside were gracefully waltzing on a recent Tuesday evening.

The Kaua‘i Ballroom Dance Club, Hanapepe Chapter, provides weekly dance instruction from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We are here to have fun, exercise and meet people,” said Tony Romo, club president. “We’re not trying to produce stars.”

Romo does admit, however, that shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So You Think You Can Dance” have generated interest in ballroom dancing.

All instructors are volunteer members of the club. They teach three different dances each quarter.

Over the course of 12 weeks, participants learn seven steps for each type of dance.

Alton and Lynette Miyamoto — who have been dancing for 10 years, since starting out with the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association — are teaching the waltz this quarter.

Two years ago, together with a few others, they broke away and formed the current Ballroom Dance Club.

“We’re instructors almost by default,” Alton Miyamoto said. To carry on the tradition of the dance club, the volunteer instructors use what they have learned and pass it on to others.

They purchase instruction videos like “American Style Ballroom” and syllabi from the Dance Vision International Dance Association, and tailor the instructional material to suit their students.

“We teach the correct way to dance, but students can improvise,” said Romo.

“The bottom line is we want students to be proficient enough to dance for the pleasure of dancing,” Miyamoto said.

In addition to the waltz, this quarter features Romo and wife Napua teaching mambo and Roy and Glenda Tamashiro teaching East Coast swing.

There are many opportunities to dance. The club sponsors a social each quarter at the Convention Center. This “pupu and dance” event is open to the public. There is also a Lihu‘e chapter of the club that also sponsors a social each quarter.

In addition, the club sponsors an Anniversary Ball, a formal dinner and dance affair held each year at a local hotel.

Miyamoto said his group is frequently asked to perform demonstration dances at other other organization’s balls, most notably the Terno Ball.

“Hopefully this gives the audience something to look forward to be able to do,” Miyamoto said.

Steve Kline, the registrar and past president of the club, has been participating in community theater dance since he was 12.

“We welcome younger high school students,” Kline said.

Chris Flynn, a ninth-grader at Kaua‘i High School, began taking ballroom dance lessons in April after seeing “Mad Hot Ballroom,” a documentary about Pierre Dulaine’s Dancing Classrooms program in the New York public school system.

“It inspired me to take lessons,” Flynn said.

He likes the Latin dances, especially the tango, and his favorite dance partner is his aunt, June Akuna.

Participants don’t need to have a partner to attend. Alison Ebata said her ninth-grade partner that evening was very good. She said she was always interested in dancing and heard about the class from an acquaintance.

“I’m also into salsa,” said Ebata, who attends the salsa sessions on Saturdays at The Point in Po‘ipu.

Paula Schultz said it was her second time partnering with Kline.

“He is easy to dance with — easy to follow,” she said.

Ampaio and Anselmo Briones spent two weeks on Kaua‘i on their way to the Philippines from Massachusetts, with a stop in California.

It was their last night on Kaua‘i, and they chose to spend it dancing. They said for them, it was a refresher course.

The next social is tomorrow night at the Convention Hall from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., hosted by the Lihu‘e chapter.

The dance classes are a part of the County of Kaua‘i’s recreation program.

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