Annapolitan gets seniors in the groove with dance County residents enjoy sessions LTC ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY SENIORS

February 03, 1993|By Amy P. Ingram | Amy P. Ingram,Contributing Writer

She's got the moves of Elvis but a following that prefers the Glen Miller Band. And all 77-year-old Melvena Reese wants to do is dance.

Mrs. Reese, who lives in Annapolis, has made the line dance the most popular activity for seniors in the county. She takes her tunes and footwork to five senior centers, four nursing homes and various community centers each month.

In groups of 30 or more, seniors stick their right foot out and shake it all about as they follow Mrs. Reese's lead to music reminiscent of the "old days."

Mrs. Reese does the Achy Breaky Heart, the Boogie Woogie, the Cha Cha and the Wiggly Wiggly.

"You put yourself in line dancing," said Mrs. Reese, "All you do is follow my feet and keep a smile on your face."

She brought in a full house of seniors anxious to do the Achy Breaky when she visited the Pasadena Satellite Senior Center Tuesday for the third time.

Jo Morris, coordinator of the center, was amazed at the response Mrs. Reese got from her fellow seniors.

"We've had very positive feedback," she said. "The line dance has drawn many people here. The place is packed."

Gertrude Brandau, 86, has been doing the line dance for many years and enjoys participating as well as watching Mrs. Reese at work. "These are all dances we did years ago. We did the same dances in the '20s," said the Pasadena senior. "It's also great for seniors because they're with others."

She said the exercise was especially good for her legs because, "if you don't use 'em you lose 'em."

Joe Cardamone, who treks to the center all the way from Arnold, is one of the few men brave enough to do the Boogie Woogie.

"She's the greatest," the 61-year-old said, "She's got such a large following, including me. She's got rhythm and makes the dancing very interesting."

And Mrs. Reese has had that special dancing rhythm for 71 years -- ever since that day when her father took her to her very first ball.

"I've always danced," Mrs. Reese said. "I've never been a professional, but what you see is what you get. As long as my feet hit the floor, I'm happy."

For most of her years, she's been a ballroom dancer. It wasn't until three years ago that she tried line dancing and immediately discovered she liked it. "This dance is for everyone. You don't need a partner," she said.

Doris Linton, 73, returned to the center after a long illness to continue her line dancing hobby. "Melvena is such a lovely, lovely, lady," she raved. "You can talk to her, dance with her and she makes you feel good. That's why I'm here."

Mrs. Reese choreographs all the dances she teaches. In addition to her weekly nursing home and center visits, she will dance at Michael's Restaurant in Glen Burnie Feb. 27 and March 17.

For more information, contact the local senior center.

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