Dancing At Any Age: Belly Dancing For Seniors
Jennie Niles, one of the Ailey Extension’s more senior students, shares her story of how she and her friend, Lorraine Lunceford, came to be regular SharQui® belly dance class takers at the Ailey Extension. Learn why, when it comes to dance, age is just a number.
For months, Jennie Niles, a midtown West resident, would often walk past the Ailey Studios on West 55th Street with a curious eye, but the activity taking place behind the glass seemed a bit too intimidating. “I live in the neighborhood, and when I would pass by, I would see from the window that the dancers were jumping up in the air and flipping all upside down. I didn’t want to be doing any of that.” Giggling, she clarified, “I didn’t think it wouldn’t be safe for me to be doing that—I’m little over 21, you know?”
She continued, “I wondered if they had classes for senior citizens there, though. So, I walked in one day and asked them, and they said that seniors are welcome to come and take classes. At first, I had no idea what I wanted to take, but friend and I had some prior experience with belly dancing classes, so it seemed like a great idea to come take it here on Fridays together. And I’m so happy that we did.”
SharQui – The Belly dance Workout offered at the Extension is an anatomical approach to belly dance that can be adapted to accommodate participants of all ages and abilities. A structured, Egyptian – style form of belly dance, the technique works the entire body with emphasis on the core and focuses on everything from form and balance to strength and speed.
“I wanted to stick with belly dancing, said Jennie, “where I knew I’d be firmly planted on the ground with both feet, with my belly shaking around a little bit. I’ve been going for about two or three months now, and since I’ve been taking it, I find that I feel really good physically! My joints and my muscles are limbering up. As far as I’m concerned, it’s good for the body, you know? It keeps the muscles working well.”
“It’s also a great mood booster, she noted, “because everybody is so friendly. That’s the thing I notice most of all. I have met some very nice and interesting people that I take the class with, whom I now call my friends.”
“I love this class and I love the teacher,” her friend Lorraine added. “The type of dancing is very natural and safe. That means there is no pain, which is absolutely marvelous.”
When asked whether she had any advice for younger people, Jennie exclaimed, “Oh yes! Keep dancing young people! [Laughs] Keep dancing and you’ll live to be my age, hopefully.”