It might be the first step to “Dancing With The Stars” when “Dancing Techniques,” a course in basic ballroom dancing, is offered at Pratt Community College.


It might be the first step to “Dancing With The Stars” when “Dancing Techniques,” a course in basic ballroom dancing, is offered at Pratt Community College.

The first class is tonight at the dance studio above the Teen Center on South Main with Ande Johnson, a new Pratt resident, acting as teacher.

The class is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday night from August to November and students can get three hours of credit. There is an optional practice period after the class, Johnson said.
Students will learn American waltz, tango, rumba and East Coast Swing but first they will learn the basics of ballroom dancing.

“We’ll learn standard ballroom technique,” Johnson said.

Dancing With The Stars teaches competitors memorized steps and skills. The entire dance numbers are all choreographed. But ballroom dancing is much more than just learning steps. 
“It’s a language. It’s a form of communication,” Johnson said.

Dancers will learn the techniques of leading and following and that requires communication between partners.

Couples will be changing partners often during the class to assure they are learning to communicate with each partner and not just learning steps with one partner.

The class is for amateurs. Johnson will start from square one and assume nothing.

“We’ll start with the very basics,” Johnson said.

The class is for all ages and skill levels. It is one of the few activities that everyone can participate together.

“It transcends age and culture. It’s an activity a teenager can enjoy with a senior citizen,” Johnson said. “I encourage people of all ages.”

The class will feature waltz, tango, rumba and swing music but will also provide a wider variety of music to help keep the class interesting. The styles of ballroom dancing can be danced to different music styles. There’s a lot of popular music you can use for ballroom dancing, Johnson said.

Johnson hasn’t seen the final enrollment but there are from 10 to 20 students in the class including several members of the PCC volleyball team. Johnson’s fiancé, Patrick Hall, is the volleyball coach at PCC.

It would be nice to have an equal number of men and women but experience has taught Johnson that she will have an imbalance. She is ready to teach whatever shows up.

Because she has to teach both parts she has learned to teach ambidextrously. She is usually taking the lead with a student and giving out instructions as they dance.

Johnson, who is also a veterinarian, took up ballroom dancing when she was in college. She took a ballroom dancing class at the University of Illinois. Her roommate taught her how to swing dance. The movie “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta was popular at that time and people were curious about partner dancing so she took the class.

Years later when her children young, the movie “Dirty Dancing” again aroused interest in partner dancing. Now “Dancing With The Stars” has once again created an interest and Johnson is anxious to teach her class.

To prepare her for teaching she took an instructor training program and began giving lessons in Santa Fe, N.M. She was giving from 15 to 20 lessons per week on top of her veterinarian chores. Some of her dance students took advantage of the combination and brought their pets to her.

She even taught some classes in her clinic.

Johnson also designs dance costumes.