Former Kraft exec shares love of line dancing with her Parrish neighbors

jajones1@bradenton.comJuly 5, 2014 

PARRISH -- It was Wednesday morning, and the dancers were moving their bodies at the busy Parrish YMCA.

"The beauty of line dancing is that it doesn't require a partner," Toby Kelley said.

Dancers can get their physical exercise, while exercising their brains as well.

Kelley, who volunteers her time as instructor out of her love of dancing, led her class through a sequence of steps.

Starting with the right foot, it was "heel, toe, heel, heel."

Then the left foot: "Heel, toe, heel, heel."

And then heel and heel and heel and step.

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.

Cha, cha, cha forward.

Cha, cha, cha backward.

To a non-dancer, it sounded bewilderingly complicated.

But Kelley, a retired executive for Kraft who did field marketing and sales for many years, says that she has never met a hopeless case -- someone who can't learn a few steps.

"It doesn't matter what kind of dance it is. It's important that you're moving," she said.

"In line dancing, you can't make a mistake, but if you find yourself face to face with someone, you're probably going the wrong way," Kelley said.

Isaac Artz, a native of Israel, is Kelley's poster boy for line dancing.

Artz, who previously tried Zumba and East Coast swing, said he enjoys the physical and mental exercise offered by line dancing.

"It's fun when you fall into the rhythm," he said.

After getting the hang of line dancing in Kelley's class, novice dancers often like to try out their steps at places like Joyland in Bradenton or the White Buffalo Saloon in Sarasota, Artz said.

"Dancing is such great exercise and such great fun at the same time," Kelley

said. "It's almost addictive. I can't get enough of it. I love teaching, and I love seeing them enjoy it too."

The Parrish YMCA has been so busy that it took several months to find an opening in the schedule for dance classes.

Anywhere from 20 to a half dozen people turn out for each of the line dancing classes. The cost of free to YMCA members and $12 for nonmembers.

"It's whoever shows up," Kelley said.

Classes are held at 11 a.m. Wednesdays, and at 7 p.m. on alternate Wednesdays at the Parrish YMCA, 12214 U.S. 301 N.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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