Dancin’ to different tune

  • Published
  • By Jamie Haig
  • 16th SOW Public Affairs

When Staff Sgt. Roann Gray, a 15th Special Operations Squadron loadmaster, received a notice in the mail about a free dance lesson, she didn't realize how much one lesson would change her life.

"When I received the notice in the mail, I thought why not try it," said Sergeant Gray. "Now I'm really glad I did."

Thirty pounds lighter and more confident, Sergeant Gray is a different Airman than the one who returned to Hurlburt Field in January from a deployment.

During her first lesson, the instructor walked her through four or five different dances.

"He wanted to see how I moved, where my balance was," said Sergeant Gray. "I was athletic during high school and college, so my weight distribution was different than a dancer's."

Intrigued by the lesson and the guest party afterward, Sergeant Gray signed up for more lessons.

"There are different levels they teach and I was able to skip an entire level based on what they saw," Sergeant Gray said. "They also asked what types of dance I wanted to learn and incorporated that into my lessons."
Her favorite types of dances are international styles, which includes Rhumba, Cha-cha, Mambo and the East Coast Swing. Other favorites include the Tango, the Quickstep and the Viennese Waltz.

She was assigned a buddy-instructor to teach her during her lessons three times a week. For each hour of lessons, she practices three hours at home.

"I'm always learning something new," said Sergeant Gray. "It's a challenge to keep improving."

After three months of lessons, Sergeant Gray entered a national dance competition held in April in Las Vegas.

Sergeant Gray entered 50 entries - one entry consists of 90 seconds of dance.

Of the 50 entries, she won 25 first places, 22 second places and three third places.

"The whole experience was exhilarating," she said. "Not only to compete but to watch the world-class dancers compete."

Sergeant Gray has experienced more than just the winners circle.

She's lost 30 pounds and six inches since January and is more confident and relaxed - which she feels enables her to do her job better.

"The unexpected health benefits and the boost to my morale make all the difference at work," Sergeant Gray said. "Even my first sergeant has noticed the changes in me."

Even though she'll be changing bases soon, the studio is making arrangements for her to continue her lessons at her new location.

She's excited about the new studio and the new style of structure.

"I've no idea where this is going to take me," Sergeant Gray said. "But I'm going to take it as far as I can. It's addictive."