Ballroom dancing by the books

Some people say that dancing leads to poise, elegance and self confidence but at the Queens Library in Bayside, dancing also leads to literacy.
About 20 local youths who recently completed a six-session “Ballroom Dance Workshop for Teens” were so enthusiastic about their learning experience that most also signed up for the summer reading program as well.
According to Margaret Gibson, the Young Adult Librarian at the branch on Northern Boulevard and 215th Place, “I’d wanted to have a dance workshop to get teens into the library since last summer - Cathy heard about it by chance.”
The Cathy in question is Bayside resident Catherine Politis, who heard about the idea from the children’s librarian, during one of her many library visits with her children.
“I’ve been dancing since childhood and thought it was a great idea,” Politis said. She approached Gibson, who made the proposal to her supervisor for the first-ever workshop.
Politis submitted a resume, interviewed and was hired to lead the three-week program, teaching Tango, Salsa and Swing dancing to the teens. “It was so wonderful - the kids were always on-time and eager to learn,” she said.
The workshop, originally slated for 12 students, ballooned to 20 because of the response. “She was so compassionate,” Gibson said of Politis, “She just couldn’t turn any of them away.”
The class became so large that Politis, who teaches dance privately, recruited her daughters, Alexa, 13 and Nicole, 9 as assistant instructors. “It made me so proud to see how the blossomed in the role - Alexa’s best friend Charolette signed up right away,” she said.
She even got her husband of 17 years, Nicholaos to take time from his home inspection business to record events on video and take pictures. “Everybody wants them,” she said.
“It isn’t just about the dance steps,” Politis explained. “We taught ballroom etiquette: how to enter the room with a dance partner, how to ask for a dance in a non-threatening manner - the things that make ballroom dancing a beautiful experience.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of these budding terpsichoreans were girls. “We taught both partner positions - it develops confidence and the girls could go home and show their moms and dads how to dance,” Politis explained.
The final session, on Thursday, July 24, included a Tango and Salsa demonstration for friends and family. “Everyone was so impressed and excited - The teens that completed this workshop will always remember what a great time they had at the Bayside Library this summer,” Politis said.
Apparently, the parents got the bug, too. Politis is holding a one-hour workshop for adults in early August, at the Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School (M.S. 74) on Oceania Street.
Gibson and Politis agree that they’d love to do the workshop again, considering how it drew so many teens into both dance and the library.
“I don’t know anything about how the administrative end works,” Politis admitted, wondering, “Maybe we need a grant.”

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