Make us your home page

UT dance workshops let residents of senior complex cut loose

Martha Stratford does a shimmy wobble, Joan Echols a curtsey, Angela McKennelly a party move. What do these three women have in common?

They're all related, and they're all part of the University of Tampa dance series at the Ella senior apartment complex.

A small, diverse group of seniors living at the complex that is part of Encore, a redevelopment community just north of downtown's urban core, are participating in the creative movement/community dance workshops, including one family spanning three generations: Stratford, a grandmother who turned 102 this month; Echols, her daughter; and McKennelly, her granddaughter.

"We like that we have multiple generations, lots of different colors," said Susan Taylor Lennon, director of University of Tampa's dance program.

Lennon leads the workshops, which run Fridays through March 21, from 2 to 3 p.m., with the exception of March 14, when the university is on spring break.

"We just come here for an hour to play," Lennon said.

She starts the play by asking the group, "What's your move?" They respond with moves reflecting things that they like to do, from a swimming motion, to kicking their feet up and lifting their hands back as if they're floating.

The song Freedom by Mixed Company was a good fit because the workshops are about encouraging freedom of expression through dance.

Another highlight was when seniors danced to what Lennon calls the "down and dirty" song, Let's Get It On by Marvin Gaye. By dancing to that song, she said, the residents could allow themselves to let go and relieve stress.

"It's fun," said McKennelly. "We like to express ourselves."

"I love music. I love dance. I love everything," resident Eneida Hernandez added.

The UT students say they enjoy the experience as well and they've also learned life lessons from working with their elders.

"I have learned that you are never too old to get up and dance and have fun with it," student Natalie Osayande said.

"I have learned a lot of history just by talking to a few of them and hearing about their past," another dance student, Laura Remillard said. "Also, I think it has helped me grow as a dancer.

Dance student Alyssa Fessett added, "Their personalities don't fade over time, and they still love to express themselves. Honestly, they have more confidence than most 20-year-olds I know, and I hope to fully embrace that type of self-esteem as I age."

The workshops will help prepare residents for possible participation in the Urban Bush Women community engagement residency at UT March 25-31.

A dance company of women of color based in New York, Urban Bush Women, works as both a performing company and a leadership institute, leading and implementing community engagement programs throughout the country.

UT dance workshops let residents of senior complex cut loose 02/26/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 2:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Recipe for Chicken Wings with Coconut Sweet Potato Puree


    This dish is an homage to one of my favorite Epcot International Food and Wine Festival dishes: Grilled Beef Skewer With Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Puree from the Patagonia kiosk. A boniato is a sweet potato with whiter flesh and a typically sweeter flavor. I use standard sweet potatoes in this recipe, plus a little …

    Chicken Wings with Sweet Potato Puree. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor.
  2. The 'Total Eclipse' song from the '80s you never knew you loved


    Depending on when you read this, you are eagerly awaiting the eclipse or have seen all the commotion come and go for the first total solar eclipse across America since 1918. Without any doubts, sometime today you will probably have a chance to hear Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse Of The Heart, but here at Stuck in …

  3. Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis


    The day the clown died, Hollywood lost a serious filmmaker in Jerry Lewis.

    Jerry Lewis in 2005. Lewis, the comedian and filmmaker who was adored by many, disdained by others, but unquestionably a defining figure of American entertainment in the 20th century, died on the morning of Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017, at his home in Las Vegas. He was 91 (New York Times)
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Aug. 22


    Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market: With live music, vegetables, fruit, baked goods, herbs, teas, plants, crafts and handmade jewelry. 9 a.m., Gulfport, along Beach Boulevard, Gulfport. Free. (727) 902-2326.

    SP_347707_KEEL_NAYMARKETS_SCOTT KEELER (12/20/2011 GULFPORT) 1. Shoppers choose various produce items recently at the Gulfport Fresh Market. The market is held on Tuesday mornings.      TIMES PHOTO SCOTT KEELER
  5. My plan for the #solareclipse at 2:51 pm today


    "Marion, don't look at it. Shut your eyes, Marion. Don't look at it, no matter what happens!"