Couple dances to save puppies

By on July 27, 2016
Amber and Gregg Stief enjoying a moment on the Legion dance floor recently.

Amber and Gregg Stief enjoying a moment on the Legion dance floor recently.

And a first-hand look at Legion ballroom lessons

Like many couples, Gregg and Amber Stief of Ephrata managed to bring separate interests to their marriage. Gregg brought ballroom dancing into Amber’s life, while she introduced him to A Tail to Tell, a non-profit puppy rescue. Recently, they merged the two when they held a ballroom dance fundraiser at the Ephrata American Legion.

As stated on its website, its mission is to “free dogs from the horrors of puppy mills in Pennsylvania and give them a chance to tell their tales.” Many of the rescued dogs need medical and mental attention before they can be placed with adopting households.

“Gregg and I are volunteers with A Tail to Tell,” said Amber.

“The biggest thing (Gregg and I) do is foster. We’re failed fosters,” she said laughing. “That means we’ve adopted some of our fosters because we couldn’t give them up. Right now, we have seven dogs at the house.”

“We really just wanted to do something to help A Tail to Tell.”

“My Aunt Vicki (Dien) was telling me about (ATT) and it sparked my interest. The more I started learning about puppy mills, the more I wanted to get involved. They have different events throughout the year and we help with them.”

The Stiefs hold a ballroom dance as often as every other week, depending on availability at the Legion Hall, and decided to donate one night’s admissions to A Tail to Tell.

“Amber and I enjoy ballroom dancing,” said Gregg. “There’s a lot of joy in the lead and follow of dancing. We’d like to get younger people involved by making the music a little more upbeat and fun.”

“We go through all the decades and you’ll hear it all tonight. We wanted more of a party atmosphere,” said Amber.

As a regular part of the dances, Gregg gives lessons to anyone showing up between 7 and 8 p.m.

“It’s a lot like learning an instrument,” said Gregg. “A lot of people relate to that as a lot of people have tried to play an instrument. Instead of learning notes, we’re learning foot positions. There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”

The satisfaction comes quickly to anyone willing to try as this reporter found out with a free lesson (they are always free) for myself and my wife, Sheryl.

“I am not graceful man. In fact, I share a characteristic with most rescue dogs &tstr; I have two left feet. Nonetheless, within the hour, I had begun to understand and was enjoying the motion of a dance, which is unusual for me.”

With us on Friday were two other beginners, along with Gregg and Amber. The basic dance step for ballroom is extremely simple. Two steps within a three count to the left for the lead dancer, two back to the right, followed by a back step away from your partner. Sheryl and the rest of the dancers picked up the rhythm very quickly. (I took a bit longer.)

Once a dancer has the basic step, everything else can follow. The steps can be done in a line or the lead dancer can steer their partner around the floor.

As Gregg stated during the lesson, with practice, the dancers will soon be flourishing their moves without having to speak.

“I tell everybody the best teacher is practice,” said Gregg. “It’s how you learn. Like any art form, the more you do it, the better you’ll be. You don’t even realize it’s exercise.”

One of their biggest obstacles to recruiting new dancers is the perception of ballroom dancing as a formal affair.

“We’re also a lot more casual,” noted Amber.

Nor is it required to stick to the ballroom format.

“We really want to stress that people are welcome to freestyle dance,” said Gregg.

Their Facebook page is stiefdjservices.


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