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Through the Viewfinder: Line dancing brings health up, pounds off

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Brenda Carter, from left, Connie Warner and Irene Walter dance to the “Cupid Shuffle” Thursday in Ferriday. Warner takes popular dance steps and adds to the dance to get a better workout.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Brenda Carter, from left, Connie Warner and Irene Walter dance to the “Cupid Shuffle” Thursday in Ferriday. Warner takes popular dance steps and adds to the dance to get a better workout.

Ferriday — A group of eight women who turn Doty Road Community Center into a dance hall two days a week have one common goal — get healthier.

The goal is the reason they continue to come to Connie’s Line Dancing Class while others have stopped attending since the class started a year ago.

Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Brenda Carter laughs while dancing to the “Biker Shuffle” Thursday in Ferriday.
Brittney Lohmiller / The Natchez Democrat — Brenda Carter laughs while dancing to the “Biker Shuffle” Thursday in Ferriday.

Connie Warner started the free class to help others get in shape and be healthier.

Warner began Thursday’s class with the “Electric Slide,” “Cleveland Shuffle” and other dances.

“I like to start with something simple, then add newer, more intense dances toward the end of the class,” Warner said.

During class, Warner counts off the steps as a row of multicolored tennis shoes follow her to a remixed version of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” blaring from a stereo atop a metal folding chair in the corner of the room.

Some women clap and a few groan when they hear the song.

“I’m going to feel this tomorrow,” Irene Walker said to Brenda Carter with a smile as she took a drink of water. For Warner, the class is a way to get other people healthy while also improving her own health.

“My blood pressure used to be higher,” she said. “We have to take care of our own health.”

To encourage the class, Warner talked about healthy food choices and offered prizes for whoever lost the most weight.

“I wanted to get healthier,” Betty Walker said. “I’ve started to feel more energized and there’s good company here.”

For most of the women coming to Warner’s class, it is enjoyable and doesn’t feel like exercise.

“I’m sweating but I love the dances,” Walker said. “I’ll be tired this week but after about a month, I’ll have more energy.”

Breaking a sweat isn’t uncommon after two to three dances but neither is breaking a smile.

“There’s a sense of family with this group of women,” Warner said. “We all just have a good time together.”