Several years ago I taught a beginner tap dance class. It was a small group, only three students. They weren’t beginners though; they had repeated the class for over a decade. I was the beginner in the studio having never taught tap. I taught yoga and acting classes for kids before, but never tap dance and never to students fifty years older than I.
Harriet, Edith and Charlotte dressed out in leotards and tights for each class and spent the hour mastering shuffle hop step and flap ball change choreography to big band music. If they didn’t like the music, they told me what to bring the next week. If my choreography was too hard, they changed it. If they didn’t like the bar exercises I created they told me what they were going to do instead. “We’ve been taking tap for 13 years. We don’t get any better. Don’t want to. Don’t care,” Edith reminded me. At the age of 75, they just wanted to dance and enjoy it.
One thing I learned is that I still want to be moving and dancing like those women when I’m their age. The hour they spent together in class each week accelerating their heart rate while stomping out rhythms and shuffling across the floor kept each of them younger and healthier. The link below shows a video from CBS News that proves exercise for stay young keeps the body agile and actually slows down the aging process. The basketball team featured in the segment reminded me of Charlotte, Harriet and Edith. I quit teaching that class after that semester, but I’m certain the three of those women are still dancing.