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The Glidewells glide well

By Staff | May 10, 2011

Gary and Bonnie Glidewell from Pennsdale

MUNCY – “Dance like no one is watching,” advises Bonnie and Gary Glidewell who’ve loved dancing even before marriage.

They’d been inspired to learn more about ballroom dancing after viewing a couple dancing to a smooth classic “A string of Pearls.” It was at an annual company Christmas party where musician Mike Caschera mentioned he gave ballroom dance lessons. The Glidewell’s began studying the art of ballroom dance with Caschera at the Studio for the Performing Arts.

“As often as we can, we travel to continue lessons at dance studios in Altoona, Pennsylvania and Randolph, New Jersey,” Gary said.

After honing their talent, they and several locals showcased their dancing ability during a live taping at the WVIA ballroom at the Genetti in Wilkes-Barre. Performing with them were Dr. and Mrs. Ilgon Kim, Greg Renn, Nancy Machinski, Bill and Cindy Mahoney, Ron and Rita Clayton, Lester and Laura Bussom, Bernadette Albertson and local instructor Tony Thomke.

The two dance enthusiasts also journey to watch others perform which took them twice to the USA Dance Championships in Baltimore. From there, top amateur dancers continue competing to the World Championships. “They’re as good as professionals and rival what you see on Dancing with the Stars,” Gary said.

Although the Glidewell’s don’t feel the urge to compete, they entered one competition coming in second to a couple from New York.

When asked to share their most memorable moments in connection with dancing, Bonnie said, “Meeting Carrie Ann Inaba, a judge for Dancing with the Stars, at the 2009 Nationals. Also, it’s very satisfying to master a difficult dance step or help a student to do so.”

For Gary’s memorable experience, he cited dancing at a business reception of five to six hundred people in the Chicago Field Museum. “The Frank Stallone band was playing and no one was dancing, so we got up and did a Jitter Bug. You could tell the band loved it and received a standing ovation when leaving the floor. It helped we weren’t known by anyone there,” Gary said.

Though the couple teach several types of dancing, Gary’s favorite is the Salsa. His preferred tunes include “Slip Sliding Away” by Paul Simon; Brad Paisley’s “When I get where I am going” and “Luna Rossa” by Mario Grangoulis.

Bonnie likes the Jitterbug and cha-cha. Her favorite music includes “The Dark Waltz,” and “Lady in Red” by Eric Clapton.

The couple had often considered teaching young people, and the opportunity arrived when a local school halted events deeming kids were dancing inappropriately. “Young people today copy what they watch on MTV. Our generation learned to dance watching American Bandstand, seeing reruns of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, Shirley Temple and other great dancers,” he said. The solution was obvious, kids needed to see a different way to dance.

The Glidewell’s already experienced teaching dance to youth groups, unfortunately they’d been unable to get into an actual school curriculum. Through scheduling with Jill Warg, they were able to instruct dance in the East Lycoming Continuing Education Program. For two hours on Tuesday nights, classes are held at Ashkar Elementary School in Hughesville. The couple believes dance is meant to be shared and are the first local instructors to send free videos to students. Their website, GaryandBonnie.com give particulars on classes.

Looking toward the future, the couple hopes to take more lessons for personal improvement and continue working with youth and young adults. When they retire from Data Papers Inc, they hope to teach at a local elementary school as part of the physical education program, and also at senior centers.

Gary says, “Our generation likes to be active and dancing off calories instead of sitting around the television helped me lose 40 pounds. More importantly, ballroom dancing has been cited as a way to stave off dementia and Alzheimers. The combination of mental and physical activity engages body and mind at the same time.”

Both Bonnie and Gary are area natives though as a youngster, Gary moved about as his father was an installer with the Reynolds Metal Company.

To scoffers the Glidewells insist, if you can count, you can dance. “When we were little, whenever music played or a parade went by, we’d jump up and down and stomp to music. Somewhere along the way we lost the little kid in us. Stop worrying about what people think, and dance like no one is watching.”