EDMOND — Betty Windsor may have found the secret to staying young and it includes sequins, tap shoes and lots of moving around.
Windsor, 92, is the oldest member of The Senior Sensations, a group of about 20 tap dancers who practice at the Edmond Senior Center and perform at retirement homes throughout the Oklahoma City area.
Practices are held weekly but there is plenty of homework involved for the 20 or so members of the troupe. Practices are often recorded and members have the option of critiquing their moves at home.
For Windsor, the 40-minute performance at the senior center is taxing, but not exactly something that wipes her out either. She is as precise and energetic as anyone else wearing red sequins.
“At my age I can't do everything that I used to do but I can get close and stay busy,” Windsor said. “That's the key for me. I like to stay busy and move around a little bit. And this is a really fun group to be around.”
When Windsor references what she used to do, she's talking about the half-marathons she ran into her early 80s. She doesn't run anymore but credits a lifetime of fitness for her longevity.
“I've always been active and have taken care of myself and I think over time that's been a big help to me as far as how I feel. I'm not getting any younger, but I don't feel as old as I probably should.”
The Senior Sensations are choreographed by Becky Schroeder, who has been working with the group for eight years. Schroeder also teaches dance for kids. The seniors are generally better-behaved, she said.
“They're really hard workers that are committed to practicing,” Schroeder said. “We spend a lot of time with memorization. You think back to when you were younger and you memorize things for school and they haven't used that part of their brain in awhile. But once they tap into that part of their brain, it comes back quickly.”
Schroeder said working with the Senior Sensations is rewarding, and a lot of fun.
“It's like having 20 grandmas who take care of me,” she said. “They have over-exceeded my expectations consistently. I'm always proud of them.”
Senior Sensations member Katherine Schlageter said the dancers are always laughing at themselves, which helps them relax and not take their routines so seriously. At 62, she's the youngest member.
“When we learn our routines we have a lot of fun and laugh a lot because we make plenty of mistakes,” she said. “But that's all part of it. And it's great exercise for our bodies and our minds. We have to memorize things and sometimes that's harder than the physical part of it.”