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Instructor teaches couples to dance for charity

By Bianca Montes
July 9, 2013 at 2:09 a.m.

Sharon Petty, left, oversees Becky Arriazola and Abel Arriazola as they practice the nightclub two step at Busby Dancenter in Victoria. Petty, a veteran dance instructor, is coaching the four couples who will compete in Dancing with the Stars Victoria Style!, a fundraiser for Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach, on Aug. 23.

How to help

If you are interested in sponsoring the Dancing with the Stars Victoria Style! fundraiser for the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach center, applications are available on the center's website.

Like many little girls, Sharon Petty grew up taking ballet and tap dancing classes.

Life was all about sparkles and pink tutus.

In high school, her interests shifted, and instead of plies and tendus, she was playing any and every sport that she could get her hands on.

She was a tomboy.

But that phase in life did not last long.

Petty still remembers the very moment she fell back in love with dance: She was 16 years old and living at home in Houston.

A dancing couple featured on television caught her attention.

"I told my mom right then and there that I am going to do that," Petty said. "A week later, I was off and running."

Thirty years later, her life is still centered on dance - now, as a teacher.

For the fourth year, Petty is preparing area contestants for the Dancing with the Stars Victoria Style! competition.

Proceeds raised will benefit the Billy T. Cattan Recovery Outreach center in Victoria.

Susan Rybak, treasurer for the center, said she designed the event to help change the face of addiction in Victoria.

"It crosses every person," she said. "It's not something that doesn't touch all of our lives at one point or another."

Rybak said she not only needed a great dance teacher for the event but also an instructor who had a passion for helping people.

She immediately thought of Petty, her former teacher.

"She has the ability to get the people to dance," Rybak said.

This year, the theme of the fundraiser is centered around famous couples, and for the first time, four area married couples will take on the roles for the competition.

Abel and Becky Arriazola will dance the nightclub two step; Deanna and Craig Chang will dance the hustle; Veronica and Russell Holt will dance the fox-trot; and Carly and Chris Wall will dance the peabody and Charleston.

The dancers will take the stage Aug. 23 at the Leo Welder Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available online at the Weldercenter.org website.

Petty said working with married couples is an interesting shift from previous years where the competition paired people up.

"Married couples tend to say things to each other they normally wouldn't say to a partner they were less familiar with," Petty said laughing, saying the complaints are usually about whose leading.

However, she said, there is only one drill sargeant in her dance studio, and that's her.

She said she's earned the title by constantly challenging the couples to do it again.

And for her grueling workouts, the couples have been practicing with Petty since mid April.

"It's hard," she said. "They didn't know it was going to be this grueling.

"I told them they better start working out," she joked.

But deep down, she said she has a soft spot for all of her students.

"I'm so nervous when they take the stage," she said. "My heart is just thumping.

"I always cry."

Petty said watching them makes her miss dancing professionally, but she's happy watching those she teaches.

"Sometimes, you have to step back and be happy with making other people happy."

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