Our people: Lady of the dance

Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico Clovis resident BJ Bernet enjoys teaching dance and says her staff of dance instructors are different and provide great support for one another.

Clovis resident BJ Bernet toured with the Beach Boys across the country in the 1980s. Bernet, 44, worked as a “moving prop” as she jokingly called herself and other back up dancers. She said it was exciting and met many people, including Roy Orbison.

The Bernet’s moved to Clovis in 2004 with orders to Cannon Air Force Base for her husband and she immediately set about making the town her home. Bernet said she is a firm believer in “home is what you make of it” so she got involved at her children’s school and became a substitute teacher. She moved into coaching cheer at the high school and teaching dance and cheer on the side on her own. Now she runs her own dance studio.

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Bernet said there is more to teaching cheer than urging the girls to smile and teaching them dance moves.

“I want to make a difference in their life,” Bernet said. “I want to teach the girls I coach that there is life after cheer. I try to teach them life skills on top of dance.”

Bernet said learning dance and cheer is more about helping children find their own sense of self esteem.

“Dance is important,” she said. “But not as important as life.”

How long have you been in dance? Since I was 8 years old. I did professional cheer until I was 28 years old. Then I got into teaching and coaching.

What do you like about dance? I love most about dance is that it takes me to another place.

What do you like about teaching dance? I love most about teaching dance is the final production that the kids bring at recital and show how much they have accomplished throughout the year.

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My friends and family call me… My family calls me “the sergeant” because I get things done and mean business.

When I get in my car, the first thing I listen to is… silence. I talk to God and say my peace/piece. Before there were speaker phones, I am sure people thought I was crazy talking to myself. I would see someone looking at me strange and I would just give them a big geeky smile.

One movie I could watch over and over again is… “Chicago” and “The Mummy.”

Tell us about your pet. I have a pet Doberman named Juno. She is 65 pounds of love and intimidation, ha ha.

What is your theme song? “Welcome to the Jungle.”

What would you like printed on your gravestone? Made a difference.

If money were no object, what would you do to make the world a better place? I would build a home/hotel for homeless kids. This way they could have a place to feel wanted and support each other. Each floor would be designated by age and gender. I would have a main floor/living area and kitchen area for family-style dining. I would have local businesses support the home — and that way the kids could give back by working for the community.

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After a long, hard day, I love to… soak in hot bubble bath and go to bed.

One of my favorite childhood toys is… Barbie — to get lost in another world.

What do you think about Clovis? It’s people, and the kindness I have been shown and now it’s called home.