Jeff Kolpack, Published November 30 2011
Bison football players hit the dance floor
But put him in front of a group of dancers for the final exam in Victor Gelking’s Ballroom Dance Class and the feelings change.
“Terrified,” he said.
He passed, as did four of his teammates who spent one night a week for seven weeks at NDSU’s Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse working on dances like the salsa, tango, swing, waltz, foxtrot and cha cha. It’s one thing for the 84-year-old Gelking, who runs Victor’s Dance Studio, and his many years of experience along with his two female instructors to display the moves with professional precision.
At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, Perry did just fine himself.
“The coaches like it because it works on your footwork,” he said. “And I think I’m able to keep my feet a little more. I remember a couple of times last year where I didn’t do that.”
Gelking has molded athletics and dancing in conversations before. Former New England Patriots tight end Russ Francis told him once that if a player can move his feet as fast as his brain, then he or she is ahead of the game.
“The hardest part of the body to train is the feet,” Gelking said.
Opinions vary as to who the better dancer is between Perry, cornerbacks Marcus Williams, Aireal Boyd and Bryan Shepherd and linebacker DeShawn Dinwiddie. On Tuesday, they were at practice working on their footwork getting ready for the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff game Saturday against James Madison.
An hour after practice ended, they were working on their dance footwork.
“You can always use this later on in life,” Williams said. “It’s why I feel like it’s a good thing to be taking this.”
Perry, in fact, has a vision at his wedding some day of surprising his wife.
“I’m going to bust out the salsa or something, you never know,” he said. “I’m a salsa guy – it’s real upbeat.”
The swing, Gelking said, concentrates on fast footwork. The waltz is graceful. The foxtrot is precise. The tango utilizes quickness.
Those are a lot of movements you’ll see on Saturday afternoon.
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found