Tap-dancing adults are shuffling, flapping and riffling at festivals, community centers, stages and gatherings across the Oklahoma City metro area. And many keep dancing well into their golden years.
“I don't believe how old I am. I still feel like I'm 30,” said Lynda Tarpley, whose self-named dance troupe has been tapping in the metro since the mid-1980s.
While coy about her exact age, she attributes her stamina and fitness to tap dance. Tarpley's been teaching tap for nearly 30 years and dancing for more than 50.
“It's good for your psyche and your memory,” she said. “And you can make the steps accessible for all expert levels.”
That's why there's such an age range in her classes. From 20-somethings to 80-year-olds, she accommodates them all.
Over the years, she's seen the popularity of tap dancing soar among adults. She started out teaching fewer than a dozen adults. Now she teaches and choreographs for about 150.
Popular dance numbers for her troupe include “Anything Goes,” from the Cole Porter musical, to “Singin' in the Rain,” a song Gene Kelly famously tapped his way through in the 1950s.
Strike a pose
Sherri Smith, a dance teacher at The Poteet Theatre at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, giggles while she fuses clever sound and visual demonstrations to help her adult students learn steps. Billy Idol's 1983 hit “Rebel Yell” plays in the background.
“You can practice this at your desk while you're typing and reading your emails,” she tells her students during the Tuesday evening class.
The truth is, she said, some of her students might need a chair to help them get through a number, but that's OK. Her classes include teen students through retirees.
“I'm 46, and there are parts of me where age is catching up,” she said. “Sometimes I have to put my hand up on the wall, too.”
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