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Dance dance revolution

Photo by Mary Knox Merrill.

Some parents tell bedtime stories to their children. As a young mother, Ketty Rosenfeld danced with her kids before tucking them in for the night.

“We shut off the lights, turned on a flashlight and danced to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and The Rolling Stones,” Rosenfeld recalled. She impressed her children with her skills: “Mommy’s the best,” they would exclaim in unison.

The director of Northeastern’s international cooperative education program grew up in Indonesia, where she learned how to dance bhangra, salsa and merengue.

As Rosenfeld put it, “I cannot live without dancing.” Music, she added, “is the heartbeat of entertainment.”

For the last two years, Rosenfeld has taught a Latin dance-inspired fitness program called Zumba, whose choreography incorporates hip-hop, salsa and merengue dance moves.

She currently teaches the program at the Jewish Community Center in Newton, Mass., and at the Beacon Hill Athletic Club in Brighton, Mass. Last year, Rosenfeld taught Northeastern students in the Marino Center.

Zumba fanatics flock to Rosenfeld’s workouts. Her energy, grace and unbridled enthusiasm for exercising and burning calories are infectious.

One woman credited Rosenfeld’s Zumba workout for alleviating her depression. A married couple rekindled their companionship by busting a move. “They were always looking to do something together, and this was it,” Rosenfeld said.

“I love all of my students,” she added.

In the throes of a dance routine, Rosenfeld is prone to making high-pitched whirring noises and scurrying from one end of the studio to the other. “I have an incredible amount of energy,” said Rosenfeld, a Boston Marathon runner who rides her bike to work every day. “I need to exercise.”

She finds parallels between teaching Zumba and helping Northeastern students succeed on international co-op. “You have to find a way to get people out of their comfort zones,” she explained. “You have to have fun and find the positive side to everything.”