Dorothy Weiss, a resident of La Posada, a premier senior living community, has been practicing ballroom dancing since she was 13 years old. She and her friends were inseparable, and one summer they started getting together in a finished basement to put on big band records and dance. Ballroom dancing has been an integral part of her life ever since. When she married and started a family, she and her husband would have weekly date nights to go out dancing. They took lessons together as part of an adult education program through the local elementary school. Now, Weiss is eager to pick up her weekly routine with the start of a new series of ballroom dance lessons happening on select Fridays at 1:30 p.m. at La Posada.
“Growing up, it meant a great deal to have a date with a boy and go to a ball in the city,” said Weiss. “All the glamorous hotels put on social dances in elaborate ballrooms and brought in popular big bands. It was the number one event we looked forward to when we were young. It’s still the highlight of my life. I am such an advocate for ballroom dancing, as I feel it lifts peoples’ spirits, provides physical and mental health benefits and brings people joy. We are so fortunate to have a truly talented and passionate dance instructor at La Posada. One day she suffered a major accident and didn’t know if she would ever walk again. Surprisingly, she began practicing dance techniques, which helped her learn to walk again. After this experience, she felt seniors would really benefit from similar exercises, so she started volunteering at our community to lead the classes.”
The instructor took the last year off from teaching to travel but is eager to pick up where she left off at the senior living community. Weiss encourages fellow residents to try something new, reasoning that the music will make them want to move to it. Outside of the ballroom dance classes, La Posada hosts different themed dances throughout the year, during which the community brings in male ballroom dancers for ladies who don’t have a partner. Residents and invited guests dance for hours as a big band featuring musicians play toe-tapping, arm-swinging tune after tune.
“My favorite dances are the Latin ones: the Cha Cha, Rumba and Merengue. I also enjoy the Fox Trot and the Waltz,” said Weiss. “I’ve always had a passion for music and dancing. There was a point in time I used a walker for rehabilitation. As I regained my strength, I listened to a Jane Fonda tape and felt like I was dancing instead of walking. I’ve always felt the music, music is the rhythm of my soul.”
“Ballroom dancing has many benefits for those who participate,” said Rick Minichino, wellness director at La Posada. “The class itself is uplifting and fun, and there’s a social aspect from everyone coming together to learn, practice and create memories. Ballroom dancing is a type of exercise that burns fat and strengthens bones and joints. The movements also improve muscle tone, flexibility, conditioning and endurance. The creative outlet is equally healthy for the brain, as attendees need to learn different sequences of footwork. Some residents have ballroom danced their whole lives while others are trying it out for the first time. It’s like we have our own ‘Dancing with the Stars’ group here at La Posada, and it’s inspiring to watch.”