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Long Island dance groups keep meetups going online

Arielle Cohen of Valley Stream has kept up

Arielle Cohen of Valley Stream has kept up with her love of choreographed group dancing via virtual sessions live-streamed from Layla's Dance and Drum in Valley Stream.  Credit: Bruce Gilbert

With her beloved studio dance classes currently canceled, Arielle Cohen, 7, of Valley Stream has been popping, locking and learning new break-dance moves in lessons livestreamed to the family flat screen.

After school — which the first grader also attends remotely — her mom, Tameko Cohen, rolls up the rug to turn their living room floor into a safe dance space. Then she programs her Android phone so Arielle can bust moves with on-screen break-dance instructor Dr. Ew of Layla’s Dance & Drum in Valley Stream.

Arielle, who goes by the Hip Hop name, AriiLLsKiLLz, admits, "I miss playing and hugging my friends" at dance class. "But I feel great because I still get to dance," adds Arielle, who’s recently mastered moves like The Six Step, The Broccoli and The Helicopter.

Here’s how other Long Island dance-lovers are staying on their toes until dance class is back in session:

SQUARE DANCE FOR TWO

For Ronald and Beverly Bode of Amityville, it only takes two to square dance instead of the usual eight — plus Zoom and a bit of imagination.

Ronald, 79, a retired teacher, and his wife, Beverly, 78, a retired registered nurse, have been square dancing since the 1980s, first with the world famous caller Lee Kopman of Wantagh, and nowadays with the late caller’s son, Steve, who attracts dancers from as far off as Japan to Zoom classes broadcast from his home in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The challenge for the Bodes is imagining there are three other couples — which they call "phantom" dancers — as they execute advanced square dance choreography moves such as Flip Your Diamond and Fan Your Top. (Sometimes their friends Mike and Jan Stewart of Bay Shore come over for a square-dancing foursome.)

Bode says they enjoy high level Challenge Square Dancing because "there’s always more to learn." Bode adds, "it keeps our minds active and interested … and off of everything else going on in the world for an hour or two."

INFO Search for beginner classes at wheresthedance.com and dance videos at youtube.com/SquareDancers

COUNTRY LINE DANCING

If you’re dancing with Natalie Boyle of Rocky Point, you’re dancing country.

Choreographing line dances to hits like Keith Urban’s "Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me" and Luke Bryan’s "Down to One" is a specialty of Boyle, 51, the star of Country Dancing with Natalie programs previously held at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead and other venues.

Boyle is hoping for a live line-dancing comeback if Patchogue’s Alive After Five street festival returns this summer. With a repertoire of hundreds of line dances, Boyle is currently offering free online sessions on Facebook.

Prepare to sing along while you line dance in your den. "If the song is a hit," she says, "you know the dance is going to be a hit."

INFO 8:30 p.m. Saturdays, join by calling 631-601-5109 or visiting countrydancingwithnatalie.com

VIRTUAL CONTRA DANCING

Like its square dancing country cousin, contra features simple moves such as the do-si-do, allemande left and right and swing your partner. But instead of squares it’s done in long, facing lines.

Since the Long Island Traditional Music Association (LITMA) held its last dances a year ago, the reels have gone from real to virtual, says president Herb Lape, 70, of Huntington Village.

"You can dance to the top bands in the country now in your home," says Lape, who recently cut a rug in the family room with his wife, Rene, to a Zoom session with renowned fiddler and Oyster Bay native Brian Lindsay.

Lape says the virtual dance hall connects you with "hundreds of people doing the same thing" in living rooms across the country. And swinging your partner is just as much fun at home, he says.

INFO 5-7 p.m. Mondays-Tuesdays and Thursdays-Saturdays, 2-4 p.m Sundays; litma.org

INTERNATIONAL AND ISRAELI FOLK DANCING

Folk dancing has made a relatively smooth transition to social media platforms because "you can learn the basic steps and hear a lot of great music online," says folk dance instructor Linda Kay of Kings Park, who hopes to resume live classes later this year at R.J.O. Intermediate School in Kings Park

Another popular instructor, Ira Weisburd, is offering Zoom classes from his home Boynton Beach, Florida. Weisburd "is very popular with Long Island dancers" because, pre-pandemic, he taught special dance workshops here, Kay says.

INFO Israeli dances 7 p.m. Mondays and 1 p.m. Thursdays; Balkan and international folk dance, 1 p.m. Saturdays., youtube.com/user/iraweisburd

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