March 14, 2018

Youngster no square on dance floor

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Ian Pulliam, center, practices his moves March 13 at Pattison Park Lodge. The 8-year-old second grader was the youngest participant in the Clermont County Park District’s square dance lesson series this winter. Ian’s grandmother, Beth Pulliam, is visible in red over his shoulder.

OWENSVILLE – Swing your partner. Do-si-do. Allemande. Turkey wing. Rip-n-snort.

Of all the moves Ian Pulliam learned this winter, that last one is his favorite. The 8-year-old second grader at W.T. Elementary spent Tuesday evenings from January to March in the Pattison Park Lodge learning to square dance with his grandmother, Beth Pulliam.

Beth enjoyed square dancing in gym class as a girl, but hadn’t done it since. When she saw the Clermont County Park District was offering lessons, she was interested, but needed a partner.

Enter Ian.

“I have five other grandchildren, but they’re a little older – into their high school things – and he’s the only boy,” Beth said. “I thought it would be a good way to spend time just with him.

“It’s been good for his confidence, dancing with all the grownups. We’ve had a lot of fun.”

His confidence showed opposite women often twice his height and five or more times his age. The adults were impressed with the youngest dancer in the group.

Russ Childers, who taught the dance lessons with his wife Barb, has been calling square dances for more than 20 years and playing square dance music for 50.

“I’ve never seen anything like him at 8 years old,” Childers said. “The concepts we’re dealing with and that he picked up, those are some steps adults have trouble learning.

“I think it’s great that he and his grandma are sharing this. Having young people like him learning to square dance is how we’re going to preserve that Appalachian heritage.”

There are plenty of benefits to square dancing. Social. Historical. Cultural. Even fitness. One dancer turned on his step tracker during the final lesson of the season March 13 and logged nearly two miles in 90 minutes of activity.

For his part, though, Ian just enjoyed hanging out with his grandma.

“That’s the best thing,” he said. “We get to have time together doing something pretty fun. It’s pretty cool.”

Looking for inexpensive – often free – family entertainment for all ages? The Clermont County Park District has a wide range of programs, events and activities all over the county. Visit www.clermontparks.org for up-to-date information.

Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.

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