Group Spotlight: SCC Academy of Ballroom Dance

There are several thriving dance clubs at Sun City Center and the neighboring Kings Point, the active-living senior communities in central Florida: Seven, to be exact. GroupWorks’ own Sun City Center Academy of Ballroom Dance distinguishes itself by offering what’s perhaps the ultimate dance tool: professional instruction.

“You just forget all about your problems, and you get with people. It’s uplifting,” says Bernice DuBro, one of the Academy of Ballroom Dance’s two instructors. “I look forward to teaching. It’s so rewarding, and people are so appreciative. Learning to dance gives you a feeling of self-satisfaction.”

According to USA Dance, the 150-chapter, governing body for competitive ballroom dance in the United States, ballroom dance is on a trajectory of “explosive growth,” among all ages and among all ambitions, from those who dance for sport to those who dance for fun.

DuBro, for one, has done it all — she’s competed, she’s taught, she’s enjoyed.

“My whole life I’ve always liked to dance,” she says. “When I moved to Dayton, Ohio, from a small town, I signed up for lessons, and the instructor was looking for someone to train to be a dancing teacher.”

DuBro was 19 at the time; a year later, she was an instructor.

“It started out as a hobby, and then it developed into a career,” says DuBro, who ran a Dayton dance studio, and competed and performed professionally.

These days, more than a half-century after dance changed her life, DuBro is still teaching — and still learning.

“When you’re first learning, you’re trying to learn the whole business of dancing. Now I feel like I’ve already accomplished that, and it’s about keeping up with it, and perfecting it,” DuBro says.  “You never can just give up. I keep trying to learn new things.”

DuBro moved to Sun City Center in 2006. The Academy of Ballroom Dance was already up and running, and offering classes. The teachers were two of DuBro’s former pupils from Dayton, she says. When those Sun City Center residents became ill, DuBro stepped in.

Today, DuBro teaches two days a week at Sun City Center in conjunction with George Hawn, the club president, who happens to be another former dance-studio owner from Ohio — in his case, Youngstown. (Hawn and DuBro did not know each other when each lived in the Buckeye state, she says.)

The classes are offered for a nominal $5 fee per person, and are available for three different skill levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Each month, and at each level, two different dance styles are taught. In October, for instance, beginners who attended both weekly sessions got a taste of the rumba and the swing.

While dance, generally speaking, doesn’t have to be a group activity, DuBo, who herself belongs to Sun City Center’s two other ballroom dance clubs, understands the appeal of learning dance in a group setting.

“You feel like you’re part of the club, and you commit yourself,” DuBro says. “You develop a friendship with those people.

Like the other dances clubs at Sun City Center and Kings Point, the 100-member Academy of Ballroom Dance sponsors monthly dances. Before its events, the Academy offers 45-minute-long mini-lessons.

“We might do swing one month, we might do waltz the next,” DuBro says. “I just rotate the dances that I want to teach.”

If you ask DuBro which dance style is her favorite, you won’t be the first — and you won’t get her to choose just one.

“I used to tell people my favorite dance is the dance I’m dancing,” DuBro says. “I enjoy all of them.”