ST. GEORGE You have your way of tap-dancing into the golden years, the Sassy Senior Dancers have theirs.
The Sassy Seniors are a group of eight women of a certain age who used to dance their hearts out and now they're dancing their hearts out again.
In between, for each of them, are rather substantial middle acts during which they finished their education, made their careers, found their husbands, had their children, who had their grandchildren, all of which eventually got them a ticket to sunny St. George, Utah's most preferred retirement address.
Twice a week the Sassy Dancers get together and practice. Twice a month, on average, they deliver a performance. Sometimes it's to a church group, sometimes a social club, and sometimes to a group of fellow senior citizens, which was the case when I caught their act this past Friday at the St. George Senior Citizens Center, where they were the after-lunch entertainment.
A group of about 30 of their peers, all women except for one lone man, pulled up chairs near the stage while the dancers tapped away to tunes such as "Sunny Side of the Street," "Has Anybody Seen My Gal" and "Sweet Georgia Brown," proving that nothing goes out of style, it just retreats long enough to make a comeback.
"We don't get paid," explained Beverly Powell, a Sassy Dancer who handles the group's publicity. "But we almost always get fed. Today they gave us a nice lunch. So we say we're dancing for food."
Beverly got into the group five years ago when there was an opening "for someone my size."
They asked her if she'd ever danced and she said, "Oh yes, about a hundred years ago," and she was in.
Ages of the the current members range from 63 to 76 although they had an 80-year-old who recently dropped out.
But it wouldn't be accurate to say she retired.
"She got married," explained Beverly. "And her new husband thought they should go traveling."
Beverly's background is typical of the group. She started tap-dancing when she was nine, moved into ballet as a teenager and after that moved into the dance of real life, raising kids, paying bills, buying sofas.
Then, not long after she and her husband vacated California for St. George and retirement, she bought some shoes and started tap dancing again.
Don't try and tell her life isn't cyclical.
She's nine years old all over again, "although now I practice a lot more," she said. "And as a kid you'd perform maybe twice a year. We do that every month."
It keeps them going. A typical performance, like Friday's, involves as many as half-a-dozen costume changes. And they have to be accomplished while their two masters of ceremonies, June and Dan, rattle off a few age-appropriate jokes up on the stage.
June: "When I die I want to be cremated and my ashes scattered over Wal-Mart."
Dan: "Wal-Mart? Why?"
June: "Because my daughter will visit me twice a week."
And with that, ba-da-boom, the Sassy Senior Dancers are back, slo-mo-ing their way through "76 Trombones" and hardly worrying about what to do for an encore.This is the encore.
Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to (801) 237-2527.