Residents are taking over the dance floor at Eagle's Trace, an Erickson Senior Living community in Houston, Tex. Whether at a weekly class or a scheduled performance, participants are staying active, bringing joy to others, and creating lasting friendships through line dancing.
Two different line dancing classes are offered at the community: one led by resident Char Bouillion and the other taught by Resident Life Administrative Assistant Gloria Williams.
Residents say that each instructor brings a unique spin to the class they teach. With the instructors' passion for creating new and interesting routines, students say they find a great balance between fitness and fun.
A variety of genres
Char, who started taking formal dance classes at a young age, has been "dancing her whole life." When looking back at all the types of dance she's learned, line dancing is among her favorite, she notes. So when the opportunity to teach a line dancing class presented itself, Char jumped at the chance.
Although she includes a lot of traditional, country-western line dances, Char will switch up the music from time to time. "That way, when they're at a party, they don't have to wait for a particular song to come on to be able to dance. They can get the feel of the beat, get up, and do a line dance," she says.
Before moving to Eagle's Trace, she taught various classes, including a version of Michael Jackson's dance from his "Thriller" music video and other themed line dances, such as a '20s-style dance. Char says that she looks forward to teaching her neighbors to perform these dances as well.
Her plans are to eventually bring her students to the nearby mall, so they can perform in public. Char has T-shirts printed and ready - boldly proclaiming "Eagle's Trace Line Dancers" - for the special occasion.
In the meantime, students of both instructors enjoy performing for other residents.
"I like teaching them a variety of dances," says Williams. "I teach a hip-hop line dance, for example, and when you see them … wow. They look like professional dancers! And they just love learning something new." She also considers performance preparation to be an important part of her classes.
"The other residents love watching the line dancers perform," Williams says. "We were asked to provide entertainment two weeks ago for about 25 residents - 15 of us performed 13 dances."
She adds, "I taught the class some dances in preparation, and we were the sole entertainment for that day. The dancers had a great time!"
Not every participant wants to perform, and Williams says that's okay too. "I have some people that are a little shy - they don't want to be in front of a big crowd or audience. It's up to each resident whether they want to perform or not."
"Many just enjoy the class for the fun of it. We're like family," says Williams.
Catered to all
Williams offers a beginner's class and an advanced class. Residents who have no prior dancing experience, but are eager to learn, start in the beginner's class. With consistency, Williams says, they often move to the advanced class after just weeks of practice.
"Anyone can learn; all I ask is that they come to class consistently," explains Williams. "If you're consistent, I can teach you."
The class is even broadcast on an in-house TV channel every day at 4 p.m. Williams says that the broadcast is more than a form of entertainment - it encourages residents to come and see how much fun people are having.
Social and physical activity
Eagle's Trace resident Jerri Workman is a longtime attendee of Williams' class. Jerri explains that she was drawn to the line dancing class because it served as an avenue to express her love for dancing and participate in a fun form of exercise at the same time.
In fact, Williams' line dancing class was the first activity Jerri signed up for when she moved to Eagle's Trace.
"I've met people through line dancing that I would not have known otherwise," Jerri says. "The people in my line dance class are some of my closest friends here. We're all in it together - that makes it fun! And the staff really enjoy it too, which makes it even more fun."
There are many benefits of line dancing, notes Char. "The thing about line dancing is that it not only works your feet, but it also works your mind - you have to memorize the steps."
Always learning new skills and teaching her students fresh routines, Char looks forward to what her line dancing class will bring to the community. "There are a lot of activities coming up - we try to make it even more fun for everybody to live here!"
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