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Countywide : Dancers Moves Are Far From Routine

October 06, 1994|ZAN DUBIN

It took going totally blind to get Robyn Vanlerberghe on the dance floor.

Too shy for that before losing her sight to diabetes 14 years ago, Vanlerberghe now has the nerve.

"I can't see if people are watching me," she says with a laugh.

"There are pluses to being blind," adds fellow blind dancer Sharon Soderman, only half-joking.

The two women on Wednesday line-danced with eight other visually impaired or totally blind country-Western fans during lunch at Tustin Rehabilitation Hospital. All take classes in the popular honky-tonk art form at the Braille Institute's branch in Orange and perform around Orange County.

"Five, six, ready, go!" called their sighted teacher Patty Tebo, launching the smiling group into four choreographed routines. Tebo gives detailed, explicit verbal instructions to teach the Tush Push, the Copperhead, the Fireman and other favorite line dances.

The technique works. The boot- and bolo-clad dancers stomped heels, swiveled hips and executed quarter turns with near perfect synchronicity and few missteps. Their audience whooped and clapped.

Vanlerberghe, 39, relies upon the music, usually coming from a nearby boom box, to make sure she faces the right direction with each turn. Knowing what step comes next is a simple matter of memorization.

"I didn't think I'd like it so much," said the Murrieta resident, who began boot scootin' four years ago, "and I didn't know I'd like country music so much."

Tebo's students performed at the rehabilitation hospital because their friend and Tebo's teaching partner Brad Grabill, 47, is being treated there. Grabill, who lost his sight 14 years ago because of diabetes, had a stroke a month ago, but expects to leave the hospital Saturday.

Hearing the music and enjoying the show, Grabill said, gave him even more incentive to mend quickly.

"It gives me goose bumps up and down my arm," he said, "because I really want to be out there. In a couple more months I will be."

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