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FOLLOW THE LEADER — At front, Bobby Haynes, Millie Metzgar, Taylor Duguay and Martie Buckett follow the leadership of dance instructor Bonnie Morisset on March 25 at the Chisolm Community Center in DeLand, Florida.

Into the Swing of Things

By Jessie Sperrazza – The West Volusia Beacon
Contributing Author
Photo by Jessie Sperrazza
Social Dancing at the Chisolm Community Center

Editor’s Note: USA Dance District 9 Director Janet Massengale recently sent American Dancer an article written by reporter Jessie Sperrazza, after her evening with USA Dance Blue Springs, Florida Chapter #6086.  That article is presented here in its entirety with full writer and publication permissions.

Thank you to Jessie Sperrazza and to the West Volusia Beacon for sharing your article with our readers.  Links are presented here for the West Volusia Beacon’s Website and the online version of the article.

Also, thank you to Janet Massengale, Bonnie Morisset, and Blue Springs Chapter #6086!! When contacted by American Dancer, Jessie mentioned that she “really enjoyed speaking with Bonnie Morisset and attending the class!”

Each Monday evening, don’t be surprised if you hear the energetic sounds of the cha-cha or the chiming notes of a smooth waltz drifting out of the Chisholm Community Center, located at 520 S. Clara Ave. in DeLand.

This is where you will find “USA Dance” instructor Bonnie Morisset hosting dancers of all ages and skill levels in two community dance classes. 

If you are interested in joining the basics class — just show up! Don’t hesitate to join the fun, fitness and camaraderie happening at the Chisholm Community Center — even if you’ve never stepped foot on a dance floor before. The crowd is welcoming, nonjudgmental and enthusiastic in sharing a special form of recreation and social interaction.

“It does not matter what kind of music you like. Country, Latin, big band, swing — there is a dance community for that genre of music,” Morisset told The Beacon. “Dancing is not only fun but has physical, mental and social benefits, and learning is fun too. I am very happy to be one of a family of qualified dance instructors, who love to teach.”

Morisset has been teaching dance since the 1970s, following a fortuitous change in an early career path. 

“Arthur Murray Studio in Daytona was doing telephone solicitations to offer two free lessons,” Morisset said. “I had always wanted to dance, and the dance I wanted to learn was cha-cha. So I took a few [more] lessons, and then the owner approached me about being a teacher. I was a long-distance telephone operator at the time, and I put that on hold and went into training.” 

Dance and creativity, and sharing those skills with others, have become defining characteristics of Morisset’s career. 

“I am a ballroom dance judge — I teach private and group classes. I am also an artist: I do murals, commissioned paintings, and I teach painting. I teach line dancing, as well as ballroom dancing,” Morisset said. 

Morisset strives to tailor the Monday-night “Basics” class to those in attendance. “I teach according to the people who I have there. I always have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C,” Morisset said. “The word ‘ballroom’ scares people off. It’s really social dancing. We don’t have many big ballrooms here, but we have a lot of places you can go and dance. From a bar, to a cruise, to events, to weddings,” Morisset said. “There are just so many opportunities to dance, and if you know how to dance, it improves your social life,” 

Class participant Andy Bowen of DeLand has been dancing for about two-and-a-half years and believes that the benefits are many. 

“It’s physically good for you because you’re up and moving. It’s good for the mind. When you’re learning, you have to really pay attention to what’s going on. It’s good for you mentally, physically and socially. You meet new friends… that’s all part of the fun of this,” Bowen said.

During any given Monday, you may be partnered with dancers ranging in age from 20 to 90. Time and time again, Morisset has been witness to the recreational, social and therapeutic benefits of engaging in dance, she said. 

“People come in for all different reasons,” Morisset said. “I have people who start dancing because it is one of the No. 1 recommendations to keep the pathways in your brain open for Alzheimer’s.”

DeAnn and Bobby Haynes of Seville have been attending the “Basics” class for about six months. 

“The dance class is wonderful. The group here — there are a lot of levels, and they are all very helpful,” DeAnn described of her and Bobby’s Monday night date night routine. “We have always wanted to learn to dance… if it’s ever been on your bucket list to learn to dance, this is the place to come.”

The Chisholm Community Center is home to a multitude of recreational and educational activities, for children and adults. Chisholm Community Center Director Dr. Monét Bradley described her passion and mission for providing a place where the DeLand community can connect. “Our aim at the Chisholm Community Center is to become the heart of our community, offering not just engagement, but also vital educational programs and resources. We strive to create a space where everyone in DeLand feels welcome, supported, and empowered to thrive,” Dr. Bradley told The Beacon.

Information About The Event

What: Basics dance

When: From 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. every Monday (intermediate dance begins at 7:30 p.m. immediately after)

Cost: $6, or $8 for the intermediate class.

In addition to the weekly Monday-night classes, there is a dance scheduled for the first Sunday of each month. 

Dances are held in the Chisholm Community Center Gymnasium, and doors open at 1:30 p.m. 

If you are a member of “USA Dance,” a nationwide social and ballroom dancing group, the entrance fee is $10. For nonmembers, the fee is $12 for adults and $8 for students with a student ID. Included in the entrance fee is a complimentary group lesson 2-2:45 p.m., with social dancing until 4:45 p.m. 

“It took a while to build our chapter back up after Covid because people were afraid to dance… but during our last dance, we had about 60 people who attended — so dancing is back in full swing!” instructor Bonnie Morisset said. The next scheduled dance is this upcoming Sunday, April 7. 

“USA Dance” membership information can be found at

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