Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 1, 2013

Moving and grooving with pride

Patriotism fuels instructor to dance heart out for troops

By Judy Wakefield
jwakefield@andovertownsman.com

---- — Lourdes Oramas leads a dance class armed with a whistle and an attitude.

“Shake it baby ... I’m going to drive you crazy today!,” she bellowed to a recent class of some 20 dance enthusiasts at Yang’s Fitness Center, based in a restored warehouse in Dundee Park.

Oramas has earned a reputation for her high-energy Caribbean dance moves that can leave students pooped after just the warm-up. She’s also become well-known among younger students through her “Move and Groove” classes, which she brings to the town’s public schools as well as Phillips Academy.

But while her dance card is filled with the rhythms of Zumba, cardio dance, salsa, merengue and hip hop, Oramas is a bit of an introvert off the dance floor. So when the Cuban native who learned her moves while growing up in Miami feels her sense of patriotism grow more intense, particularly following the Boston Marathon bombings, she turns to the thing she knows best — dance.

“I’m so proud to be an American,” said the single mother of two who now calls North Andover home. “My family worked hard to get here and I love it here ... there are so many opportunities.”

As an instructor at Yang’s, Oramas has grown familiar with the work of Homes for Our Troops, a local nonprofit group that builds handicapped-accessible homes for returning soldiers injured while serving their country. Yang’s, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in town, is a big supporter of Homes for Our Troops, holding fundraisers for the organization over the years. Oramas wanted to make her own contribution to the nonprofit group, too.

“I just wanted to do something, but I had no idea what to do,” she said.

She finally decided on a dance-a-thon benefit. Oramas has teamed with other dance/fitness instructors from Yang’s, including Tracy Callahan, Katie Pina and Debra Steele, as well as instructors at Dance Images in Methuen, all of whom have committed to dancing for two hours on Friday night, May 3, at the club. Spectators and dancers ages 13 and up are welcome to watch or join in the fun. There’s a $25 donation and proceeds benefit Homes for Our Troops.

“There’s a great team of dancers for this and I’m just so proud to be part of it,” Oramas said.

What: Dance-a-thon benefit for Homes for Our Troops When: Friday, May 3, 7 to 9 p.m.; check-in starts at 6:30 p.m. Where: Yang's Fitness Center, 5 Dundee Park, Andover How: $25 donation for both dancers and spectators. Visit YangsFitness.com or call 978-475-2020.