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CHAMBERSBURG - Put on your dancing shoes, comfortable clothes (or dressy, if you wish), and prepare to enjoy yourself swinging and swaying as you move around the dance floor with your partner.

The occasion is Chambersburg IceFest's Snowfall Ball, always a major hit of the 14-year-old winter event. For the last five years it has been in the capable hands of Frank and Maureen Hancock of the Hancock Dance Company.

Don't let the name mislead you, this is not your ordinary fancy ball. First, you don't have to dance if you don't want to. Second, if you do, and think you have two left feet, there will be a class in advance of the actual ball to prepare. (It never hurts to learn a few dance steps.) And third, you don't have to dress formally. This is an evening of fun and participants should relax and enjoy themselves.

Actually, Frank Hancock prefers that you stay loose and comfortable, with no pressure to perform. "It's easier to learn to dance when you feel that way," he said.

Hancock started dancing at a young age. "I had been dancing for eight years before I went to West Point.l In the '60s everyone danced, and I did so along with baseball, basketball, and academics."

A few years ago, the organizers of IceFest were looking for someone to do a dance session and a halftime presentation and they contacted Hancock, who is well known in the area for his classes. In fact, over the past 17 years that he and his wife, Maureen, have been teaching, they have worked  with some 17,000 students. When he says that he loves to teach dance, he means it. His wife was one of his students. "I taught her to dance when we married," he said.

For IceFest, attendees will have a chance to practice two of the featured dances in advance of the actual ball - the cha cha and the foxtrot. The workshop starts an hour before the ballroom dance, so anyone who has never danced or who wants to brush up on their skills will have an opportunity to do so.

In an intermission, there will be a showcase dance featuring some of Frank's students. They will be performing American Fast Dances from the Charleston to hip hop. The Hancocks' wealth of experience shows in their full schedule of classes at various educational institutions and with students of all ages, from Shippensburg University and Dickinson College to Iron Forge Elementary School in Boiling Spring and the U.S. Army War College. For this event they even provide partners.

Hancock's philosophy of dance is easy: "It's developing a muscle memory, like typing. The more you practice the better you get at it. It is an opportunity not only to have fun but also work you body and mind." Now retired, he continues to work, and a good part of that is numerous dance classes. As he put it, "You can wear out or rust out. I've chosen to make a difference."

WHEN YOU GO:

Snowfall Ball

Chambersburg IceFest

Friday, Jan. 29

5:30 p.m. doors open

6-7 p.m. dance workshop

7-10 p.m. ballroom dance

Central Presbyterian Church

40 Lincoln Way West (on the Square)

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania

$10 per person (tickets available at the door)

For additional information e-mail info@icefestpa.com or visit the website at www.icefestpa.com.

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