She said letting her older students know she understands their aches and pains relaxes them. And a good soundtrack to dance to doesn't hurt. Music for her class ranges from 1940s big-band tunes to 1980s rock and '90s pop.
Healthy body, mind
Research indicates low-impact dancing such as tap can help flexibility. With music, it can help bring back memories in patients with Alzheimer's. Smith said she knows it affects confidence levels and overall fitness.
“You can definitely see it from people who aren't in the best shape. You see changes in their joints, knees and ankles; people can move faster, and their stamina gets better,” she said.
While the outward effects are there, personality changes happen, too.
“The shy ones come out, and it helps their self-esteem,” Smith said. “It helps with presence and how you deal with other people.”
It's also a great stress reliever.
While there's a playful competitiveness in Smith's classes, it's more encouraging than cutthroat.
Fun and exercise
About six years ago, working mother Leslie Hardin started her own foray into tap. Her interest was piqued while her now-teenage daughter was taking dance lessons.
Other mothers Hardin met expressed interest in learning as well — some having danced as children or always wanting to. She took classes from other teachers before finding a home at Poteet Theatre.
“I'm not doing this to be a star or anything,” she said. “It's for fun and exercise.”
Not to mention, she said, it's more fun to dance to great music than to listen to the whir of a stationary bicycle.