Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

An 87-year-old lives her dream to dance with New York's Rockettes

CLEARWATER

At 87, Pauline Clark proves that you're never too old to dream — no matter how out of reach that dream may seem. When Freedom Inn of Countryside's activity director asked the resident what she'd like to do if given the opportunity, Clark gave her an amazing answer. "I'd like to dance with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall."

Linda Mason-Allen would have to get back with her on that, but within a few months, it had all been arranged: Clark was on a plane to the Big Apple with her best friend's daughter, Janet Motz, 65. The pair would enjoy two nights at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Secaucus, N.J., and a Dec. 8 performance of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a holiday extravaganza featuring the world-famous Rockettes.

Later that afternoon Clark would participate in the Rockettes Experience, a half-day workshop for aspiring dancers. She is the oldest person to ever do so, a Rockettes representative confirmed.

During the experience, Clark and some others were taught a simple routine by Rockette Lindsey Howe. They kicked and saluted like toy soldiers as Tchaikovsky's March of the Toy Soldiers played in the background.

"I had my brand-new tap shoes on and they called my name," Clark recalled. "I set my walker aside and did some kicks this way, then that way.

"It was like I was in a dream."

Her lifelong desire to dance with the Rockettes was made possible by Brookdale Senior Living, parent company of Freedom Inn, and Wish of a Lifetime Foundation, a nonprofit organization established in 2008 by two-time Olympic skier and former NFL football player Jeremy Bloom (seniorwish.org).

The organizations make seniors' wishes come true.

• • •

Pauline Clark took her first dance lesson from her big brother, Riley, when she was only 7.

"He didn't want me to go to dances and be a wallflower," she said. "We'd roll up the carpet on the living room floor and just dance. We'd tango, jitterbug, rumba, waltz. We did them all."

As a young woman, she taught dance at a USO center, and later, at an Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Tallahassee.

Then came marriage and children, and it seemed as if her days spent tripping the light fantastic were over.

"I married two men with two left feet," she said. "I could shove them around, but they couldn't really dance."

Through the years, her love of the art form never died.

Mason-Allen remembers the day Clark's daughter-in-law brought her to live at Freedom Inn. The silver-haired octogenarian still knew how to make an entrance.

"We were having happy hour and Pauline came in wiggling her hips with a big smile on her face," Mason-Allen said.

"I knew this lady had rhythm. I thought, 'This is going to be fun.' "

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

An 87-year-old lives her dream to dance with New York's Rockettes 12/26/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 26, 2012 6:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Manchester police say they have made three more arrests in concert bombing

    World

    BREAKING: Manchester police say they have made three more arrests over pop concert bombing. Stay with tampabay.com for updates.

    PREVIOUS STORY:

    People light candles after a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. [Associated Press]
  2. Who will headline the 2021 Super Bowl halftime show in Tampa?

    Blogs

    The NFL announced Tuesday that Tampa will host Super Bowl LV in 2021, a result of stadium construction delays in Los Angeles.

    Taylor Swift performed at Raymond James Stadium in 2015. Could she return for Super Bowl LV in 2021?
  3. New DEP secretary says there's no conflict in political side businesses

    News

    TALLAHASSEE — When Noah Valenstein, the newly appointed head of the Department of Environmental Protection, was applying in April to be the state's top environmental regulator, he left one thing off the application: Companies he started and his wife runs have been paid nearly $1 million by politicians and lobbying …

     Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He will take the helm on June 5, with a salary of $150,000 per year. [Florida Governor's Office]
  4. Trump says 'we can use peace' during meeting with Pope Francis

    Religion

    VATICAN CITY — President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, two leaders with contrasting styles and differing worldviews, met at the Vatican City on Wednesday, setting aside their previous clashes to broadcast a tone of peace for an audience around the globe.

    Pope Francis meets with President Donald Trump on the occasion of their private audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. [Associated Press]
  5. Pinellas construction licensing board looking for ways to fill financial hole

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board's interim leader told the governing board Tuesday that the troubled agency is looking for ways to climb out of its