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Bringing joy to Andersen through ballroom dance

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Having stood on stages around the world, winning awards and receiving praises from many audiences, dancing has been a passion of one military wife since she was a child. Now she spends her days teaching what has brought her life so much joy.

Since Adriana Bruton arrived on Guam two years ago with her military spouse, she's been teaching various forms of dancing, including ballroom dancing, to children and adults of the Andersen Air Force Base community from ages 3 and older.

"To me, it's a passion I have," Bruton said. "I'm able to give back to the community what I've learned throughout the years. It's important for children to learn things they wouldn't learn in a classroom, and for the adults, it's never too late to learn to dance."

Bruton started dancing at age 6 in San Antonio, where she spent most of her dancing days. The first dances she learned were ballet folklorico and flamenco.

"My mom put me in dance class because I was very shy as a child and it helped me break out of my shell," Bruton said. "It was something I fell in love with doing."

At age 15, she joined her first professional dance company, and at age 21 she decided to work for Arthur Murray International Dance Studio where she began ballroom dancing.

While working at Arthur Murray she got to travel all over the world and compete professionally, winning her first competition as a professional. In 2010 she retired from dancing professionally, but never stopped dancing and teaching dance.

Bruton began by teaching adults ballroom dance in 2011, then started teaching youth classes a year later. Her teaching methods for youth are different from other dance teachers in that she incorporates spelling, introducing themselves and simple social skills into the curriculum.

"My daughter has taken classes for about a year and loves it, and I like it too," said Normita Vernon, whose 4-year-old attends the youth classes weekly. "She's opened up a lot since she started the classes and it gives her time to spend with children her own age. She's also learning to spell and introduce herself, and wants everyone to come watch her dance."

For children, Bruton said it's not just about learning a few steps but also important life skills, like the importance of eye contact, etiquette, self-confidence, poise, grace and self-esteem. At the end of every month parents are invited to class to practice dance steps with their children.

"The parents have been very thankful to me for starting these classes," Bruton said. "They said they hadn't really seen youth ballroom dance classes before and have seen a great outcome of how their children have grown and changed for the better."

Bruton helped not only make dancing easy for children, but for adults as well.

"I've learned a lot and it's a good 'couples time' for me and my husband, plus it's a little bit of cardio," said Gerly Diaz, a ballroom dance student. "After taking these lessons, I've realized dancing is actually simple and anyone can learn to dance."

Many of her students entered the class with "two left feet" or had never danced before, but due to her patience and teaching methods, learning to dance is easier than people thought. She teaches several dances each month, with the most coming being the fox-trot, waltz, tango, salsa, rumba, swing and merengue.

"At the end of the day, dancing is a great stress reliever and it fuels the mind and body," Bruton said. "It's great for couples because it strengthens their bond and is a good activity for couples to do together. It is also a great hobby for single people and a way to meet people around base."

Along with ballroom dancing, Bruton also teaches DanceNastics, a dance and gymnastics mixed program at the Hot Spot on base.

The days and class times are as follows: DanceNastics classes are Mondays and Tuesdays at 3 p.m. for ages 3 to 6, and Tuesdays at 4 p.m. for ages 7 and older. Youth ballroom dancing classes are held Wednesdays at 3 p.m. for ages 3 to 5 and Wednesdays at 4 p.m. for ages 11 to 14. They are also held Thursdays at 3 p.m. for ages 6 to 10, and Thursdays at 4 p.m. for ages 15 to 17. The adult ballroom classes are Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m.

"I am grateful Andersen AFB and the Coral Reef Fitness Center gave me the opportunity to teach," Bruton said. "It's something I love to do and will always do. I'm able to take my job with me and hopefully can teach the world to dance one base at a time."

For more information or to sign up for dance classes, call the Coral Reef Fitness Center at 366-6100, or for DanceNastics call the Hot Spot at 366-2339.

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