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Dancing with the Sarge in Hummelstown - abc27 WHTM

Dancing with the Sarge in Hummelstown

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When Joann Tresco took up ballroom dancing three years ago, she was learning new steps, while forgetting part of her past.

"It's a passion of mine," said Tresco, "It is something that I found by accident that has been a blessing to my life."

"I noticed that when I dance I forget about anything that was troubling me."

Ballroom dancing was the prefect way for Master Sergeant Tresco to reconnect with the world she left behind while deployed in Iraq with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

"No one who goes to combat comes back the same," said Tresco. "I knew that when I went, but I really didn't understand how much a combat tour would make a mark on my soul."

It was in a combat zone where the 34-year veteran discovered the healing power of dance during off duty salsa dance sessions involving hundreds of soldiers and civilians on the base.

"When I stepped on the dance floor I was able to leave whatever was troubling me behind," Tresco said.

After returning home from Iraq, Sergeant Tresco continued her new found passion for dancing at PA Dancesport in Hummelstown. There she partnered with an instructor who understood. Jonathan Kopatz had served with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

"I know a lot of people come in here for different reasons," said Kopatz, "but dancing is definitely one of the best things as a stress reliever. I mean, that's one of the reasons I got into it, initially."

For Tresco, using dance to cope with combat stress is the perfect fit for her Army job. She trains soldiers to deal with the hardships of war constructively and points to her own dance experience as an example of a positive emotional outlet.

And for this swaying soldier, the music apparently won't end when her enlistment does.

"Fortunately, I'm about a year away from retirement and then you're going to see me dancing a lot," promised Tresco with a confident grin.

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