by Anne Batty
Contrary to the old adage … there IS something new under the San Clemente sun. And if you’re a little bit country, you might want to get your “boot-scootin’ boogie” boots on and join professional dance teacher Anne Leslie for a Country Line Dancing class on Wednesday afternoons at the San Clemente Community Center.
Students participating in the class seem to agree that it’s a great way to have fun while exercising. They say the dancing is not only a challenge for their brains (concentration to remember the steps), but it really gets the heart rate up and works up a sweat.
Instructor Leslie, a classically trained dancer, not only breaks down the line dancing steps for easier learning, her expertise, unique personality and array of country tunes energizes her students and keeps them returning to enjoy the fun.
The Gal behind the action
Born in England in the seaside town of Blackpool, and raised in a musical family (her mother was a singer and performer), Anne brings a great deal of professionalism to her classes. She began taking dancing and singing lessons when she was five-years-old. Then continuing her dance studies during her formative years, it wasn’t long before she was called upon to perform at events and in shows all around her town.
At the age of 12 Leslie danced professionally in the Tower Ballet continuing until 15. At 17 she danced the lead in the summer season show in Blackpool. Always seeking knowledge, at 18 she pursued her higher education in the teaching field. After three years of study she tested to fulfill her country’s requirement for a teacher’s certificate, and degree in hand she began instructing “the wee tots” in what would be termed in America, a Kindergarten class.
“I loved teaching the wee ones,” Anne said. “Incorporating my dance background, I developed some fun and unique methods to keep them interested in learning.”
Along with teaching, Leslie remained true to the dance, and after marriage she opened her own ballet, tap and jazz school where she taught until a job opportunity for her husband brought the family across the pond to California. Once settled in Torrance near San Pedro, she began teaching dance classes in Redondo Beach.
“While teaching, I was also performing,” she said. “I sang and danced on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, four shows a day. I also danced with KIIS FM and in several night clubs in the area.”
Never one to be idle, Anne eventually opened two performing arts studios one in San Pedro and one in Rancho Palos Verdes. And after her husband and two surfing sons discovered San Clemente the family moved to town in 1979, settling down in the north end, in the Shorecliffs development.
“Like everyone who lives here, we spent lots of time at the beach,” Leslie remarked. “As members of the Shorecliffs Beach Club Association, Poche Beach became our home away from home.”
Not one to “let the grass grow under her feet,” she soon opened another dance studio. This one was located among the Shorecliffs’ business buildings adjacent to the Arco Station on Pacific Coast Highway. Entitled the Anne Leslie School of Performing Arts, her studio attracted many students from Shorecliffs Middle School. During the years in that location she produced several shows. One of the most challenging was the Wizard of OZ including over 300 child performers.
“It was a huge undertaking,” Anne chuckled. “I had to enlist the help of a dialogue coach to get the job done. But it was great fun and worth all the effort.”
Life takes a turn
After several years as a business owner, closing down her studio Leslie began teaching Zumba, and Silver Sneakers classes in local gyms, as well as tap and country dance classes at the Community Center.
“A few years ago I got interested in country dancing, particularly the two-step, waltz and then line dancing,” she shared. “I was having so much fun and running into so many people who wanted to learn country, that I began teaching line dancing classes at special events in Talega, at the Bella Collina Golf Club and at the Community Center. I now have beginner line dancing classes going over the summer and will teach some intermediate classes in the fall.”
Being a baby boomer, Anne has begun to think about the necessity of classes geared for this retiring generation. Keeping in mind the body changes all are experiencing, she has developed a lively and fun class she has named Boomer Fitness. It is a class interspersed with a weight sculpting and abdominal workout that focuses on toning up the arms, legs, shoulders, booty and abs, while firing up the metabolism to increase bone and muscle strength … all done by moving to great music. This class has now become available at the Community Center as well.
While life moves busily along, for instructor Anne Leslie it’s not just about the dancing/exercise. Asked what’s next, she says she is content with where she is and that life is good. She looks forward to continuing to teach the more than 13 classes she so enthusiastically and energetically conducts weekly, but what remains foremost in her mind is the building of relationships with those she encounters daily in this place she has come to love.
View and sign up for Anne Leslie’s classes at the Community Center online at www.san-clemente.org, by mail to 100 N. Calle Seville or by walk-in at the Center.