Showstopping Seniors debut with upbeat performance

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Laura Stetser/From left are Showstopping Seniors members Helen Jones, Rose Schwartz, Joanne Patane, Alfred DiTizio, Barbara Freeman, Elaine DiTizio, Maria Rodriguez and Anna Lerro. Kneeling in front is dance instructor Susan Maclean. Laura Stetser/From left are Showstopping Seniors members Helen Jones, Rose Schwartz, Joanne Patane, Alfred DiTizio, Barbara Freeman, Elaine DiTizio, Maria Rodriguez and Anna Lerro. Kneeling in front is dance instructor Susan Maclean.

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP – Despite a few last-minute nerves and claims of stage fright, the nine members of the Showstopping Seniors took the stage for their debut performance before a room full of their peers and danced their hearts out Thursday, Dec. 13 at the township community center.

“We might take this show on the road next,” said Helen Jones of Egg Harbor Township, who like all of the other members was never a dancer before she began coming to dance classes that are offered free to Atlantic County senior citizens enrolled in the county nutrition program or at a low cost to other county seniors.

“I’ve been coming to the classes for two years,” Jones said just before the show. “It’s a good workout. Dancing helps with strength and balancing. Anybody can do it and it’s fun.”

Jones and her fellow performers are part of a group who decided to work toward the goal of performing in front of an audience. They had been rehearsing for months during the end of the hour-long weekly dance class to prepare for the debut number, a tap dance to “The Candy Man” with dance instructor Susan Maclean leading the way.

“I have been teaching the dance class for seniors and some of them really seemed to like it, so I thought I would throw out the idea of a dance group and everyone jumped on board,” said Maclean, who is an instructor at Cygnus Creative Arts Centre, which secured a grant to offer the “Art for the Young at Heart” classes.

According to Cygnus artistic director Cynthia Domino, the grant is offered through the Atlantic County Cultural Heritage Commission and funded by the New Jersey Council of the Arts.

“Any seniors 65 or older can join us,” Domino said. “Research has proven that arts are especially good for seniors and special needs individuals. It helps build cognitive awareness.”

Domino said the dance classes immediately filled up once they became available two years ago, as did the senior citizen drawing and painting classes offered at Cygnus through the grant.

The dance and movement classes begin with a half-hour of stretching while seated in chairs, Maclean said. “We warm up the whole body while sitting down.”

In January, Maclean is opening another weekly dance class. Both classes will be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. Thursdays and Fridays at Cygnus, inside the township community center at 5045 English Creek Ave. Drawing classes are held f9:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

 For information see http://www.cygnusarts.org/ or call (609) 272-1199.

To see all of the photos from the performance, click here.

 


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