NEW WINDSOR — They might not be Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, but several New Windsor Middle pupils soon will be ready to imitate their idols at the school dances.
As part of a 10-week elective class, the 18 teensare learning social dancing from Glenna Lambert, instructor at Dancing Made Easy in Westminster.
The program is one of many 10-week sessions offered to youths by teachers or members of the community.
"Don't look at your feet," Lambert advises her new students. "If you look at your feet, you'll show everyone you're a beginning dancer."
From 1:50 to 2:30 p.m. every Tuesday, Lambert shows them some of the steps and techniques of ballroom dancing.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, rock-step," shecounts for the group as they tap and swing to Madonna's "True Love."
Yet students have not complained when she's used regular ballroomdancing music for class.
"Last year, I just used music I had in the studio and I didn't hear one word about it," Lambert said.
Nevertheless, the youths did have their favorites.
"I used one piece called 'Trot the Fox,' which Patrick Swayze danced to in 'Dirty Dancing,' " she said. "The kids went crazy over that."
In past years, dance classes consisted primarily of eighth-graders learning new steps to prepare for the semiformal dance they have at "graduation" in May.
However, enrollment was down this year, and students from other grades were asked to join the class.
"I was in study hall class, and one of the teachers came in and told us there were two extra spaces," said Laura White, a 12-year-old seventh-grader. "My friend Kim (Williams) and I looked at each other, asked each other if we wanted to do it and decided it sounded like fun."
But Laura has not been able to participate since she sprained her ankle a few weeks ago.
"Since I haven't taken it, (Kim) shows me the steps," Laura said. "Then my friends who didn't sign up for the class want us to show them."
Male enrollment also was down this year because the school scheduledintramural sports on the same afternoon as the social dancing class.
"Last year, we had almost even numbers of girls and guys," Lambert said. "But this year, they changed the classes for Tuesdays, so thenumbers are different."
Only one boy, 13-year-old Dwayne Stein, attends the class. But he doesn't seem to mind being outnumbered as heruns into the room with a big smile on his face.
"I think it's great," he said.
Lambert said Dwayne appeared thrilled the first daywhen he realized he was the only male in the class.
"He threw up his arms and said, 'Yeah!,' " she said with a laugh. "It's like he thinks he has his own little harem."
The shortage of male class members has forced half the girls to learn the men's dance parts. Students will be able to switch parts later if they wish, Lambert said.
"I've learned the man's role for the swing," said Stephanie Rock, an eighth-grader. "Now I can't do the female part."
The 14-year-old said she didn't expect any problems with that at the formal in May.
"I'll just be the leader at the eighth-grade dance," Stephanie said.
Lambert told them that switching to the women's part is not that hard and that it is a good idea for them to learn the male role.
"You'll be a better dancer that way," she said. "You'll be more sympathetic to what the man has to do."
Later classes in the 10-week session will include the cha-cha and a rumba, Lambert said.
Each student had a different reason for coming to class, but most said it sounded like fun.
"I just wanted to learn how to dance," Dwayne said. "At the school dances, we just kind of sit out and stand around on thesides."
"Especially the boys," one of the girls replied.
Othergirls said they wanted to learn a different type of dance.
"I've been taking jazz lessons, and I wanted to learn some social dance steps," Stephanie said.
Other formal dancers included Christy Murphen, who had taken some ballet, and Jamie McComas who had taken tap and jazz lessons from the Performing Arts Learning Center last year.
Both 13-year-olds are eighth-graders.
Students also said they were happy to learn the "proper" way to dance.
"I've learned the properpositions for my hands when I dance," Jamie said.
Dance lessons are no longer a part of physical education classes, they said.
"We used do square dances and polkas in gym class," Christy said, demonstrating as she skipped
around the room. "We'd square dance for plays, too, and one of us would be the man."
In addition to dancing inclass, some students said they also practice at home.
"My sister and I used to practice our steps at the bus stop," Christy said. "Now, since we're walking to school, we dance for our mom at home."