Coila Stevens, 92, took her first dance class at the age of five and has enjoyed dancing ever since. Dancing always brings her an immense amount of joy, and she’s tried a variety of techniques including tap, ballet, character, modern, clogging, African dance and Irish dance, among others. Currently, she attends dance classes at Presbyterian Village North (PVN), a premier senior living community in Dallas. She also assists with the beginner classes, helping her fellow residents learn how to dance. She stands in the back so that when the class turns around, they have someone else to observe and follow in addition to the instructor. With her lifelong passion for dancing, Stevens couldn’t imagine doing anything else in her retirement.
“I danced for 30 years – in my youth, through high school, during college and even after graduation,” said Stevens. “I took a hiatus from dancing to raise a family and devoted myself to all the normal things parents do, like 4-H and the Parent Teacher Association (PTA). After our kids grew up, it was time for me to return to dancing, so I signed up at a facility in Indianapolis. They offered all types of classes, and if they didn’t have it, they would get it for you if you were interested in something different. I was in my 60s when I signed up for the clogging classes, and I fell in love with them. I joined two clogging groups – the Still Kicking Cloggers and the Circle City Cloggers. We volunteered to clog dance at the Indiana State Fair every day for two weeks, and we also did two trips to Europe. It is my favorite style of dancing and I did it for 20 years.”
Stevens thinks of dancing as her therapeutic outlet, as it creates positive energy, keeps her mentally sharp and is a good outlet for stress. When she moved to Texas, she signed up for dance classes with the Syncopated Ladies at the Denton Senior Center. While living in Denton, Stevens also participated in the Rogues and Ranch dance classes for 10 years. When she moved to PVN, she started attending Dance Fusion and Line Dancing classes. Dance Fusion is held on Tuesdays at 3:00 p.m. and Line Dancing is held on Thursdays at 2:45 p.m. She even attends the Beginner Line Dancing class on Thursdays at 3:15 to help teach other residents the footwork.
“The mental challenge is tremendous. People can see what our feet are doing and it looks like a breeze, but if they could only see what is happening in our heads,” said Stevens. “The most difficult styles of dance I’ve tried are African and Irish. Earlier this year I decided to challenge myself by signing up for the Gray Fox Follies Talent Show at PVN. For the talent show, I took a clogging routine I have done several times and turned it into a tap routine by wearing my tap shoes and changing the rhythm. I’ve participated in the talent show each year since I moved to PVN three years ago.”
“It’s events like the Gray Fox Follies talent show that really showcase the diverse backgrounds of our residents,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “It’s inspiring that they continue to pursue their lifelong passions, and we are fortunate when they share them with us. For this reason, we try to offer a diverse range of activities, programming and classes to meet the needs and varied interests of our residents.”