SCHC offers dance classes

Published 9:05 am Monday, July 27, 2015

SUNDAY LESSONS: Elaine Harris laughs and she and her dance partner, Robert Harris, practice the waltz.

SUNDAY LESSONS: Elaine Harris laughs and she and her dance partner, Robert Harris, practice the waltz.

National Dance Day was Saturday, encouraging people to get fit through the art of dance, which is just what Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation’s dance instructor Jim Frechette does.

Frechette has been dancing for about 30 years and has taught for 25 years.

“My mother started taking dance lessons when I was in the Navy, and every time I would come home to visit she would drag me out some place she was dancing,” he said. “I liked all the attention I was getting from girls who wanted to dance with me.”

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Frechette said he then went to a studio to take lessons where he was hired to train and teach lessons.

“I’ve taught at three different locations here in Vicksburg,” he said. “I’ve been teaching here between 10 and 12 years.”

Frechette teaches foxtrot, waltz, rumba, cha cha, swing, west coast swing and sometimes two-step at Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation. In Jackson he teaches tango, Argentine tango, salsa and other Latin dances.

There are a lot of benefits to dancing, Frechette said.

“I was very shy,” he said. “I couldn’t really talk to anybody. I kind of got out of that when I started taking dance lessons. I think most guys take dance lessons to meet girls.”

Frechette said dancing is a great workout, too.

“It’s as healthy as doing aerobics but doesn’t tend to get boring as quickly,” he said. “It’s one of the few exercises you can do in public at a social event. You can take cardio combat, but you can’t do it at a party.”

Dancing also help with mental health, Frechette said.

“Dancing is also the only physical activity that has been found so far that helps with dementia and Alzheimer’s because most physical activity doesn’t require continued learning,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to sit on a stationary bicycle.”

Bill Case and his dance partner Valerie Case have been dancing with Frechette for three years now.

“I didn’t start learning until I was 57,” he said. “We knew this was something we wanted to pursue so we started taking lessons.”

Case said he has been encouraging his 24-year-old son to start taking lessons sooner.

“Another thing is the different dances we go to,” he said. “We’ve met a lot of great people.”

Case said some of his friends have even met their significant others through dancing.

Dance lessons are offered at the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation two Sundays per month and the cost per lesson is $10 per person.