Shuffle your feet, get off your seat |

Shuffle your feet, get off your seat

Wren Wertin
Emilia Gonzalez(front), (from right to left) Mary Lou Alvarado, Benita Cruz and Emma Aragon practice their moves Wednesday during tap class at the Minturn Community Center.

JoAnn Moore, a local dance teacher and president of Friends of the Dance, leads them through songs and routines from 11 to 11:45 a.m. After the stomping stops, they retire to the tables and join other senior citizens for a lunch will all the trimmings. Bingo follows.

“I like the sound of the shoes – shoosh, shoosh,” said Bonita Cruz. “It’s good exercise.”

Cruz has lived in Eagle County since 1957, when she moved from Trinidad. She and pal Mary Lou Alvarado come every week they can. Alvarado lives most of the year in Cleveland, Ohio, but spends the winter months in Minturn with her daughter and grandchildren.

“JoAnn is a really nice teacher,” she said. “She helps us figure it out.”

Moore has been teaching senior to dance for the past seven years. She thought she was in it for a few months at most, but has found she can’t seem to stop. And her students wouldn’t let her, anyway. The Wednesday tap classes are too special.

“They get excited about it,” Moore said. “They’re getting healthier every time, finding energy they didn’t know they had. Sometimes they get to giggling, just like my younger students do.”

In the summer they dance with parasols and scarves, marching up and down the streets of Minturn, fluttering as they go. Winter takes them inside. When the new community center was carpeted, it looked to be an end to tapping. What’s the point of hopping about if you can’t make any noise?

Moore mentioned the dilemma to Janet Huntoon, who is a member of the Thrivent Financial Lutheran Brotherhood Mountain Community. The group donates money to specific community projects, such as portable dance floors for the seniors. The floors were made in Canada, and Friends of the Dance paid for the shipping. Now, they can tap anywhere.

Moore is continuing a tradition taught her by her grandmother, who would take her to the senior center once a month.

“She would dance and sing,” said Moore. “And then she had me dance, too. They would smile, and like it so much. She told me, “You remember this.'”

Before class, the aches and pains of life are keenly felt by the dancers. By the time they’re one dance into the class, they’re moving more fluidly, easily.

“I like it so much,” said Emilia Gonzalez. “It’s very good exercise, and we move all the parts.”

“I like the dancing,” said Emma Aragon, of Red Cliff. “It’s a lot of fun because I won’t exercise on my own.

Aragon used to cut the rug but good, and adores the polka and the waltz. Tapping is new to her, but she’s picked it up quickly.

“I’m going to get out every chance I get,” said Aragon. “I already raised my kids, and I help with my grandkids. Now it’s my turn to get out and have fun. It’s my turn to dance.”

Moore teaches tap dancing every Wednesday in Minturn from 11 to 11:45 a.m. Transportation is provided.

Wren Wertin can be reached via e-mail at or phone at 949-0555 ext. 618.

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