Dare to Dance
Shirley and Frank Rehling dressed in their best for a night of dance. Photo courtesy of Alisha Soeken
By Alisha Soeken
A painter has its color, a poet its words and a dancer its body. With air for its canvas, a dancer draws with movement. And, unlike paint or print which survives in ink and oil, dance vanishes after its fruition; perhaps that is the beauty of it.
You don’t have to be an expert to dance; untaught, it emerges nodding and bobbing, swaying and squatting as an infant. Despite its natural development, dance tends to vanish inside us with age and self-consciousness, but not so in a plucky group of senior citizens at the L. Clark Cushing Heritage Center.
Each Thursday night, over 80 of those spirited seniors get together to listen to the music of Tony Summerhays and do what they love most: dance. Tony Summerhays has been performing at the Heritage Center for what the dancers call forever, and they love him. He dresses up in holiday-themed costumes, takes pictures with the crowd and knows people, and their favorite songs, by name.
“Tony is the best. I love the live music and he plays the good old timey stuff,” Louie Fisher said.
Fisher has been dancing at the Heritage Center for over 15 years, accompanied by her partner and best friend, Burns Jowers.
When you enter the dance hall at the Heritage Center and see the glittering dresses, twirling heads of gray hair and slow shuffles of feet, you can’t help but be delighted. Frank Tidwell and Margie Hoyt were among the many partners on the dance floor; even after a fall, Tidwell was back on his feet, proving you are never too old to dance.
Also making that point was a 101-year-old man who twirled his partner, albeit slowly, across the dance floor. In comparison, Frank Rehling, age 93, was a youngster. He showed off his wife Shirley who, like himself that night, was dressed to the nines – proof that youth and beauty are not just for the young and beautiful.
Despite the mature crowd, the atmosphere was fresh and youthful. The air of high school wasn’t far away, as you watched young-at-heart girls sitting on the sidelines hoping to be asked to dance. People from all over the valley come to Murray for the chance to dance. Carol Miller even drives from Layton.
“I love the atmosphere. I love to dance and be with my friends. I’ve been coming for seven years,” Miller said.
Perhaps you used to dance, maybe you’ve forgotten how or, even worse, forgotten why. Turn on the music, nod and bob, sway and squat, dare to be like Burns Jowers who, when his favorite song begins to play, flashes the musician a big thumbs up, slowly gets up out of his seat and says, “When I hear the music I must go dance, and I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself.”