Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 May 2016

Strictly over-60... dance troupe sets the silver standard for fun and fitness

Laura Abernethy learns cutting a rug isn't just for young people on TV shows

Published 23/01/2016

Laura Abernety joins the dancers in Lisburn
Laura Abernety joins the dancers in Lisburn
Participants have fun
Participants have fun

Meet the dance troupe with a difference. Anyone of any ability can join - the only rule is you have to be older than 60.

Age on Stage was set up in 2007 in a bid to give older people a way to get fit and creative.

Tutor and choreographer Anthea McWillams explained: "I was working on a project here (Lisburn) at the Island Centre called Dance the Memories. It was a community dance project for seniors in which I went out and taught dance to elderly people.

"I then decided I could set up a resident group here in the studio from that. It was a hunch, but people enrolled. Some members have been here ever since."

Since then the troupe has grown and now has two groups - one in Lisburn with around 20 members and another in Craigavon with 10.

The dancers come together to perform in arts centres, for community groups and in care homes. Along the way they have developed quite a following.

While the oldest member is 87 and several more are in their 80s, they love performing and get real benefits from being involved with Age on Stage.

Anthea said: "There are so many benefits - there's the fitness benefits, the chance to be creative, but also remembering the material, socialising and working as a team."

Sandra Perry (83) has been attending the group since it was set up. Despite having two knee replacements, she tries to get involved as much as possible. "I love movement and this is a great way to keep fit," she said. "This is contemporary dance and it's something completely different. I wouldn't miss coming every week. You never stop being a performer."

Bob Nesbitt (62) is one of two men in the troupe and has been dancing with Age on Stage for three years. "I enjoy coming every week," he said. "I can be lonely at home, but they keep me cheerful and it's great entertainment."

Edith Gilmore (75) added: "I had a heart attack about 10 years ago and I had to have a triple bypass. I needed a new way to keep fit and I really enjoy coming here. It's helped my muscles and I feel more alive when I'm dancing."

For more information on Age on Stage, visit https://ageonstage.wordpress.com or call Anthea on 07980494063

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