Faces in the Crowd: Debbie Ellerton

Local dance instructor, Debbie Ellerton, has been cutting a rug and teaching others for almost 30 years in the Black Hills Area. Her desire to share the love of dance is getting many people active and learning a life long skill.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — After her kids were grown, Debbie decided to do something for herself and started taking dance classes. She became hooked — she learned line dancing, then taught her friends and eventually classes of people.

Debbie dancing and teaching class

Debbie dancing and teaching class

She learned different types of dance by watching videos and taking classes. Her passion snowballed from there – she’s been teaching youth and adults all types of social dance for nearly 30 years. She loves teaching students, not only dance movement and rhythms, but also self confidence and a skill that can be enjoyed all throughout life.

Her youth program is called the Hot Shots.

“You know you might be young and playing soccer today and basketball or volleyball, but when you are 100, you might not be able to do that anymore,” says Debbie Ellerton, dance instructor and owner of Heartland Dance. “But you know what, at my Grandpa’s 98th birthday, he was still dancing, so it’s a lifetime activity.”

Heartland Dancing, class participants

Heartland Dancing, class participants

Debbie advocates dance as a way to also keep the brain sharp — continually learning new moves and rhythms, keeps the body and brain working together. Dance is a form of expression as well, and can give couples and families a way to spend time together.

“Dancing seems to be really big and a big surge is coming again right now I can feel it, it’s like in the early 90s when I started teaching,” says Debbie. “There’s a lot of people interested in dancing again, so I see it growing in Rapid City and I’m excited to see what happens.”

Footwork at dance class

Footwork at dance class

Debbie says a handful of her students met in her class and are now married.

“The other thing that is really neat is that I had a former Hot Shot who met this young man who used to help me teach dance classes in the high schools and they got married, and talk about a neat, neat experience,” says Debbie. “It just kind of warmed my heart to know I have a dancer here and a dancer here who met and now they are dancing together and that was really a fun thing.”

Country 2-Step Class

Country 2-Step Class

Dance will be in Debbie’s future no matter her circumstance, she says.

“I’m going to be dancing until I’m in a wheelchair, then I’m going to learn to wheelchair dance.”

Heartland Dance Class

Heartland Dance Class

Click here for more information on the Black Hills Dance Festival coming up in April.

Click here for more information on Debbie’s classes at Heartland Dance.

Categories: Faces in the Crowd, Local News

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