Shared from the 3/21/2019 The Virginian-Pilot eEdition

‘DANCING WITH THE SENIORS’

BETTER WITH AGE

Participants ‘enjoy the fellowship and exercise’

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CINDY BUTLER FOCKE/FOR THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

Marquita Bianca Castano has led “Dancing with the Seniors” at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts for the last nine years. The dance lessons for men and women 55 years and older began in February and will culminate with a prom on May 23.

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For more information, visit Baila Fuzion at bailafuzion.com or find them on Facebook.

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CINDY BUTLER FOCKE/FOR THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT

The free twice-a-month dance lessons for men and women 55 years and older recently included a line-dancing session. Participants moved to the groove of “Bus Stop” by D.J. Jubilee.

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Blanche Harris, left, and Barbara Brinson participate in a line-dancing class.

Marquita Bianca Castano had a lot to say to some senior citizens recently.

She began with, “From the top: five, six, seven, eight” and led them in the grapevine, hip rolls and other moves to a tune by Bruno Mars. Next came wobbles and kicks as they line-danced to the grove of “Bus Stop” by D.J. Jubilee.

“We are going to do it like we are not afraid!” the energetic instructor exclaimed.

About 100 men and women are participating in “Dancing with the Seniors” at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts.

This marks the ninth year Castano has collaborated with the venue to provide dance lessons to adults 55 and older. Two sessions have been offered twice a month since February, and will culminate with a prom on May 23, where a king and queen will be selected by the group. The free program is sponsored by Atlantic Shores Retirement Community and the Sandler Center Foundation.

Castano conducts the classes, and occasionally invites other dance experts. Attendees learn dancing, salsa, tango and more. Her goal is to provide them with something new in “an edgy way,” she said.

Castano encourages seniors to be active.

“I want them to do things to take them out of character, just dance and have a good time.”

Participants are mostly women, and she encourages more men to give it a try.

During a recent lesson, Barbara Brinson grinned as fellow dancers took a short time out to sing “Happy Birthday” to the 67-year-old. She retired last year from her job as youth opportunities coordinator for Virginia Beach, and now has time to try new things, she said.

Castano is “fun and interactive,” she said. And, “I really enjoy the fellowship and exercise.”

Her Cypress Point neighbor Yvette Williams said her brain cells are working hard.

“You put it all together and memorize what’s next,” the retired Norfolk Public Schools administrator said.

Castano, 35, grew up in a military family and has lived in the area for about 15 years. She planned to become a veterinarian, until she experienced the world of dance. At age 21 she became a professional salsa dancer, and five years ago opened Baila Fuzion Dance and Creative Arts Center, now located near London Bridge.

The business’s name, pronounced “Bye-la,” means dance in Spanish. And because she offers so many types of dance, such as krump, break dancing, Latin and more, she added the word fuzion.

Dance instruction continues during the summer for all ages, including two six-week camps for senior citizens beginning in June. Tuition-free classes are offered for the special needs’ community.

Charlotte and Greg Johnson celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. The Kempsville couple were high school sweethearts in Delaware and have two children, two grandchildren and a great-grandson. They laughed about their dancing days in the 1960s, which included “The Twist” and the “Pony” dances.

Charlotte Johnson suggested they join the fun so her husband would “get more active in dancing.” He served in the Navy for 21 years, and operates his own home repair business. Johnson said he has enjoyed learning new dance moves.

“Hopefully it keeps us young,” he said with a smile.

Cindy Butler Focke, fockecindy@gmail.com

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