“Left, right, rock back. Left, right, rock back.” These were the orders instructor Frank Hancock barked military style, only this was not army boot camp — this was ballroom dance class at Shippensburg University’s H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center.
The class was held March 20 with a session for beginners at 5 p.m. followed by a session for more advanced dancers at 6 p.m., both lasting an hour. With the help of his eight assistants, Hancock taught participants of varying ages the basics of the tango, cha-cha, foxtrot and swing dance. Although the dance styles have their own accompanying music genres, Hancock informed the participants music selection does not limit dance moves.
“If you go to a dance, 70 percent of the songs you can dance to with swing, the cha-cha and foxtrot,” Hancock said.
Looking as though they were 13-years-olds at a middle school dance, the participants stood shyly on the outskirts of the dance floor while music played until Hancock’s booming voice drew them onto center stage. Having had eight years of dance training before attending the United States Military Academy, it was evident Hancock knew how to both dance and teach others how to dance — in an orderly fashion.
Soon Hancock had the once timid group of participants smiling and laughing as they danced with their partners around the stage. Hancock’s belief that one can swing dance or do the cha-cha and foxtrot to any song proved true as the participants danced to songs such as “Hey! Baby” by Bruce Channel, “Rock and Roll Part 2” by Gary Glitter and “Cake by the Ocean” by DNCE.
For every direction Hancock would give, he would almost immediately counter with the question “Why?” and then go on to further explain the direction in a comedic way.
“Rule number one: we let the guy lead. Why do we let them lead? Because they can’t follow,” Hancock said when he explained why the men lead in dancing.
Although the class was clearly more recreational for the participants, dancing also works as effective exercise as well. Moderate swing dancing can burn between 300–500 calories while ballroom dancing can burn up to 320 calories an hour, according to fitnessblender.com.
“Of all the physical activities you can do, dancing is one of the best for your health,” Hancock said.
Whether they drugged their partner to the class or came willingly, each participant got their money’s worth of dancing under the instruction of Hancock. Hancock praised the participants on their newly learned dance skills early on in the class.
“Now we’re becoming a DD — a Dangerous Dancer.”