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Dance Videos Let You Set Own Pace to Learn Basics : Locally produced instructional tapes aid those who are daunted by the idea of mastering the moves in public.

March 17, 1994|ROBYN LOEWENTHAL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Whenever a fella first asks a certain gal pal of mine to dance, she gets into dance position facing him. She looks him in the eye and says disarmingly, "Don't dip me, spin me or drop me." And off they go.

Her Transactional Analysis approach to couples dancing erases all subtlety from lead-and-follow skills cultivated by Two-Step fans. But video dance instructors Wiley Hicks and his partner, Tresa Young, totally relate to her fears.

"Women are terrified on the dance floor if they can't trust their partner to lead," Hicks said.

Using 25 years of professional ballroom experience, the three-time national country dance champion shares his expertise in a new series of instructional videotapes for country line and partner dancing.

More than 250,000 of the videos have sold nationally, and the sixth and newest one just hit the store shelves. They are produced locally by Brentwood Communications, a 6-year-old Westlake Village company run by David Catlin, who also brought disco dance lessons to video 15 years ago.

Brentwood plans to release one more line dancing and one more partner dancing tape. Then, Hicks said he will begin filming similar videos for swing dancing, which is enjoying great popularity on the country scene.

I recently joined Hicks and Young for a demonstration at the Academy of Dance in Thousand Oaks, where Young teaches. The two met dancing and have been partners on and off the dance floor for more than two years.

"We've had couples come up to us when we're out dancing socially and ask what steps we were doing," she said.

"And I tell 'em, 'same as you. But it's not what we were doing but how and why we were doing it,' " added Hicks. "It's the presentation, and that comes from ballroom training."

Hicks said it took him a long time to accept line dancing because it seemed a violation of country dancing.

"Line dancing is not country in origin; it's rock 'n' roll. Electric slide 15 years ago was called The Freeze," said Hicks. "But I have finally learned to enjoy line dances because I think they're a lot of fun."

And, he added, it is a way to have a good time without the responsibility of a partner.

"But couples dancing should also be enjoyable, lovely to see and have style," he said. "Some people may not agree, but dance in good taste should be a vertical expression of a horizontal desire."

* TWO STEPPIN': Your guide to area country Western music appears today in the 11-Day Calendar section. 12

Details

* WHO: Wiley Hicks and Tresa Young.

* WHAT: Country Line and Partner Dancing Instructional Videos.

* WHERE: Discount chain, video and country stores.

* COST: $14.99.

* FYI: The team will offer a local dance workshop in April; call (818) 377-2623 for information on videos or dance seminars.

* ETC: Other local instructors whose videos tapes are in circulation include Rick Henderson; Ed and Sally; Kathy Bailey; Sonny Watson and Cliff and Tina Cox.

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