Line Dancers to Strut Their Stuff on Regional Stage


(Thursday, August 16, 2007 9:30 AM EDT)

Move over, cowboys! The Jefferson Strutters line-dancing team, from the Jefferson Retirement Community in Arlington, is taking over the dance floor.

The group has been practicing hard and is slated to compete in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics on Sept. 17 at the Lincolnia Senior Center in Alexandria.

Team members, whose ages range from 73 to 92, have been working on their routine since early summer, and are hoping for some lively competition.

“It'll be fun,” said team member Daisy Dobeck, who also stays active in water aerobics classes. “I hope there are a lot of groups.”

The Strutters have been in line-dancing competitions in the past, but for the last two years, they've only given demonstrations at the Senior Olympics.

Their routine this year is set to the Broadway tune 󈬚nd Street,” and team members will be decked out in matching costumes.

The six-person team meets once a week for practice, and is coached two times a month by Shan Farzan, a former rehabilitation nurse.

“I'm interested in maintaining function and independence [in seniors],” Farzan said. “Dancing has so many benefits: physical mobility, balance and coordination.”

Dancing also has cognitive benefits, she said. The challenge of learning choreography exercises the memory, and the nature of line dancing is conducive to socializing.

Safety is always a priority, and Farzan makes sure that participants take regular water breaks and don't push themselves too hard.

Former fitness instructor Pinky O'Neil started offering line dancing at the Jefferson about 12 years ago as a fun alternative to traditional exercise for seniors.

“With exercise, you come in, you do it and you leave,” O'Neil said. “With line dancing, there seems to be more social mixing. Single ladies don't need a dance partner, and they have fun with it.”

The fact line dancing is a group activity that doesn't require a partner is one of the main draws to the activity for many of the Strutters.

“My husband and I took ballroom for 20 years, but he came just for me,” said Strutter Kuni Lynn, who also has experience in ballet, traditional Japanese dance and hula. “I had to lead and he was so big! I don't have to worry about my husband when I'm line dancing.”

Members also enjoy line dancing for the physical improvements they see in their bodies.

“I've really strengthened my back,” said Bob Pistner, who has been on the team since its inception.

Although team mebers are not completely confident they will win the competition, they plan on kicking practice into high gear as the date nears, giving it their all and having some fun.

“We just hope we don't make any mistakes!” Lynn said.

Members of the Jefferson Strutters will participate in the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics next month.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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