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Laurelton’s Bellony has the moves

Former Yankees baseball player and Laurelton resident Rodrigo Bellony has danced around the world, from Barcelona to Aruba, but his favorite place to do the salsa and the merengue is right here in Queens.

Though Bellony has been teaching dance classes throughout the city since 1990, he opened his own dance studio in his Laurelton home in December. Classes in his studio began in December, and he said he and his instructors are excited to teach Queens residents how to perfect such dances as the salsa, merengue, bachata, cha cha cha and Afro−Cuban dances.

“I love teaching here,” said Bellony, 50. “Everyone seems to love the salsa. It’s such an elegant dance.”

Bellony grew up in the Dominican Republic, where he learned he was a natural at dancing. Rhythm and grace came easily to him, but he did not learn to teach others how to dance until he moved to the United States in 1980.

“I didn’t go to any school to learn,” Bellony said. “I learned because I worked with a percussionist who taught me the counts of the music, which is how you learn to teach dance. I’m a natural dancer, but you need to know about the counts to teach.”

The dance instructor was once a professional baseball player, and he played second base for the Yankees from 1976−78. A dislocated shoulder forced him to leave the Yankees and he returned to the Dominican Republic to play for a baseball league there.

Though Bellony no longer maneuvers around the baseball diamond, he said he owes much of his ability to remain quick on his feet to the moves he learned in baseball.

“I was an infielder, and you have to do a lot of pivoting for double plays,” Bellony said. “You have to jump high. Exercise from the sport definitely made me become a better dancer.”

Bellony’s studio — a newly renovated place featuring natural light, dance mirrors and a lounge area — is home to many aspiring dancers, from beginners to more advanced individuals.

The studio is now offering a “recession package,” or 10 one−hour classes for $75. One−hour lessons are $10, private one−hour lessons are $25 and a couples’ one−hour lesson is $40.

Bellony and his partners also organize events throughout the city, and last year they hosted 12 dance socials.

Many of Bellony’s students have gone on to be dance instructors themselves, including Bellony’s son, Junior Bellony, and niece, Milo Lil Curry, both of whom teach at schools in Manhattan. Bellony, whose favorite dance is the salsa, teaches at schools around the city, including the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

For more information, visit www.rodrigodancestudio.com.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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