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Get Fit And Friendly On The Dance Floor

Local teacher says

dancing improves more

than just your moves

When the usual regimen of fitness classes and weight training has run its course, keeping fit at the gym can be an isolating experience. That has led many people to the dance floor, where getting in shape is fun and social. And TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars, haven’t hurt either. The result: Long Island is seeing a boom in ballroom dancing, from dance-oriented social clubs, such as those along Westbury’s Post Avenue, to private studios, such as Lisa “Sparkles” Dance Studio in Oyster Bay.

Studio owner Lisa Paternoster, 31, discovered her passion for dancing at a young age, taking classes with a local teacher. Soon, she was focusing traditional dance and practicing at studios around the area. After an mentor suggested Paternoster train as a teacher, she studied dance instruction while attending classes full time at Hofstra University.

“I got into it by accident, from taking classes at studios where my mom would take me, to learning how to dance, then teaching, then competing and training with great instructors like Lori Brizzi, Bobbi Petri and Joey Smith,” she said. “I trained as a dance instructor, then dance became a full-time passion for me -- and full-time career.”

In 2005, Paternoster, who is known as Sparkles, opened her first studio.

“My students are really dedicated to learning and have been amazingly supportive,” she said. “Many know me from introducing one-hour special dance lessons before a night of social dancing, or from performing with other choreographers in the community.”