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NICHOLAS MERCER: Line stepping in her shoes

Jocelyn Madore teaches line dancing in Jeffrey's the way she was taught by her mentor Doris Roberts.
Jocelyn Madore teaches line dancing in Jeffrey's the way she was taught by her mentor Doris Roberts. - 123RF Stock Photo

Jocelyn Madore hadn't thought much about line dancing before entering her first class in Jeffrey's four years ago.

An avid dancer — it is in her blood she says — she has always had a love for the art of moving your body to music.

She sees it as an exercise in fun and it is the reason she walked into a line dancing class being taught by Doris Roberts at the Lion's Club in the west coast community.

Madore was just a beginner to the craft upon entering the room. There were sure to be bouts of nervousness over trying new steps or learning a different routine.

She credits Roberts with helping her overcome those feelings and move on to teaching.

Madore's voice lifts at the mention of Roberts.

In the fleeting minutes she spoke about her connection to the late dance leader, you could hear the pride she of just being taught by Roberts.

"(Doris) was such a good woman. Just a beautiful woman," said Madore, her admiration shining through the receiver.

Roberts died in 2016 and is remembered as a pillar of the community in both the Bay of Islands and Bay St. George. She started playing the organ in church as early as eight years old and later became the president of the local Anglican Church Women's group.

Roberts' connection to music continued later in life as she played with the group Revelation and Strong Winds.

Years ago, she taught line dancing in the area before moving to Lark Harbour where she continued to teach the craft.

When she moved back to Jeffrey's, Roberts picked up where she left off there.

Madore inherited the class from Roberts when she died. It is something she has taken great pride in for the last two years.

"I promised (Roberts) that I would keep the dancing going," she said. "It means more to me than you'll ever know (to be teaching in Roberts' honour)."

Just hearing the words line dancing conjures up an image in my head that couldn't be further from what it actually is.

When I hear line dancing, I see cowboy boots and hats, groups of people facing each other and a man standing on stage with a fiddle of some sort. He's calling out instructions whilst playing a tune and the groups perform dance steps based on those orders.

Contrary to what I've believed for a couple of years, that is a square dance.

Lo and behold, the line dance is different. Dancers form lines and perform an intricate set of dance steps. Everyone does the same step and moves in unison.

As an art form, line dancing gained popularity in the 1980s and is built off the disco movement of the 1970s and early 80s.

When done right and in time, it is an impressive thing to watch. I've never seen anything in person but have through YouTube clips.

For Madore and her group, the line dancing represents the chance to get together for an afternoon and get a sweat going.

Calling themselves the Step in Time Line Dancers, the music they dance to isn't confined to the country music western. Contemporary hits like Moves Like Jagger and Blurred Lines are at the top of group's playlist.

Of course, it wouldn't be Newfoundland if there weren't some traditional pieces that found their way into the choreography.

It makes sense. When you watch line dancing, you see some of the same steps you saw one of your uncles doing during a family wedding as a child.

There isn't any need for experience. Aside from the usual class Monday afternoon, there is a beginner's class being offered.

Thinking back to her own beginnings, Madore remembers what kept her going back. Roberts had knowledge of the moves and a gentle way of teaching them.

Roberts always smiled, taught with energy and made everyone was in the right place.

It is something Madore hopes to emulate as her own classes continue.

"There was a glow about (Roberts)," said Madore. "She was a very special lady."

In the years following Roberts' death, her pupil feels like she moves differently in class. She is smoother.

If you ask her, Madore will tell you it is like she never really started dancing until she started teaching the class.

To her, it is as if Roberts is dancing alongside her.

"It was meant to be," said Madore.

Nicholas Mercer is the online editor with The Western Star. He lives in Corner Brook and can be reached at Nicholas.mercer@thewesternstar.com.

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