Dance competition helps Houston seniors have fun and avoid isolation

From boogie to James Brown and Charleston to tapping and even tango, hundreds of Houston-area seniors put on their dancing shoes for a contest designed just for them.

The 2019 AOA Dancing with the Silver Stars competition at the Bayou City Event Center on Thursday, May 2 brought together more than 600 “active older adults” and guests from 26 Houston-area YMCAs. For the 10th anniversary contest, teams from Conroe to Pearland performed choreographed routines to songs as varied as the soul classic ‘I Feel Good’ and the country song ‘Wagon Wheel’ while others sat at their tables stamping, singing and clapping.

Elena Dinkin, AOA director for the Trotter and Weekley Family YMCAs, said the dance competition encourages older adults in Houston to have fun, socially engage with others and gain confidence while dancing. and working to win the trophy each year.

“It’s about them wanting to be a part of something and not being able to stay home and have this social isolation,” Dink said. “It gets them out of their homes. It also gives them the opportunity to enjoy life and, as I call it, to strut their stuff.

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When the pageant sold out this year just days after registration opened, Dinkin approached the event center to rent their entire ballroom instead of just half. The area YMCA seniors were so excited that the larger space also sold out.

“It’s overwhelming, it’s very emotional and it’s heart-warming,” Dinkin said. “It just shows that everyone wants to live life to the fullest and that’s what they’re here to do today is love life.”

Diane Lima has been performing with the Weekley Family YMCA band in southwest Houston since the dance competition began. She exercises five days a week at the Y and loves participating in the contest because of the people she meets and how it helps keep her “young at heart”.

“It’s the most wonderful feeling. Everyone comes together, and it’s just one big happy family.

Linda Price joined the dance team at the TW Davis Family YMCA in Richmond this year after all her friends there told her what a great time it was. She decided she wanted to be included as well. Price was happy with her team’s performance because they had spent a lot of time preparing, she said. “We felt confident. We felt we could do it. »

The ages of the dancers varied, but the hall loudly applauded the oldest dancer in the competition – she was 92. At least one group had dancers cutting a rug from the comfort of a chair, tapping to the beat. During one intermission, the entire dance floor filled with elders doing the “Macarena” and other dances.

“They are a riot. They’ll always have you in the net,” said Amy Cronan, who is a Zumba instructor and coach for the Vic Coppinger Family YMCA team in Pearland. “Overall, I think it rekindles the friendship and just being out there and not doing anything on your own.”

Some seniors like Andrea Hermann from the Trotter Family YMCA in the Memorial area came out to watch and support the dancers. Hermann called the event a “good thing” since many area YMCAs now attend and participate and said she appreciates the camaraderie felt, but also how accepted the event is.

“You know, people are not inhibited at this age. We’re all old people, and no one gets too pissed off that “Oh, maybe my body part just doesn’t look like it used to.” Let’s have a little fun today. The music is good. People are friendly. It’s just great fun. And I keep talking about it because I think people should get out more and realize that there are things to do.

For more information on YMCA programs for seniors in the Houston area, click here.

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