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Hip-Hop Senior Citizens

Lori Watts of Moville, center left, and Barb McKenney of Hinton, center right, dance with others members of the Siouxland Center for Active Generations' Silver Sensations hip hop troupe. In addition to performing at September's Fall Follies fundraiser for the center, the Silver Sensations also dance at area nursing facilities.

SIOUX CITY | At age 74, Frances Madison is becoming quite adept at line dancing, tap dancing and ballroom dancing.

However, the Siouxland Center for Active Generations member is also developing a knack for a different form of dance: hip hop.

Yeah, you read that right. The Center's Silver Sensations dance troupe has been swinging to a decidedly more modern beat.

Granted, the women haven't been kickin' it to the tunes of Eminem or Li'l Kim. Taio Cruz's "Dynamite" and Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" are more to their liking.

"I knew hip hop existed but I never really knew how to dance to it," Madison said during a class held in the auditorium of the 313 Cook St. center. "Don't know how good I am at hip hop but I do like it."

Indeed, she was one of the hip hoppers cutting it loose at the Center's Fall Follies, held in September.

"I'd like to think that we stole the show," Jane Hunkins, a fellow member of the Silver Sensations hip hop ensemble, said. "I know we got plenty of applause from the audience."

Normally a tap dance instructor at the Center, Hunkins said looking like a hip hop artist is an important way of selling the act.

Wearing a black hoodie, sequined top and Chuck Taylor kicks covered with rhinestones makes a person stand out.

Mostly, Hunkins credited hip hop choreographer Amy Lahrs with some truly "fly" moves.

A former high school dance instructor, Lahrs said she preferred teaching seniors to teenagers.

"Seniors are critical on themselves when they mess up," she said. "Teenagers don't take dance that seriously."

Indeed, one of Lahrs' prized pupils is also her mom.

"Amy's my daughter and she's a great teacher," Lori Watts said with a big grin. "I'm not a natural hip hopper. If Amy can teach me to move, she can teach anyone."

Even Kerry Ruehle, the center's activities director, has joined in on the fun as a Silver Sensations member.

"I never joined a dance club before but wanted to see what it was like," Ruehle said. "Now I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier."

Still, Jane Shanahan was a bit suspect about hip hop.

"I've watched hip hop dancing on TV before," she noted. "I saw a bunch of young people rolling around on the floor."

"When I started taking lessons with Amy, I was convinced I could still roll around on the floor," Shanahan said, jokingly. "Getting up off of the floor? Now, that becomes a different proposition once you reach a certain age."

We have a suspicion Shanahan did just fine as one of the Silver Sensations hip hoppers.

"Yeah, I had a lotta fun," she conceded.

Looking back at her life, Frances Madison said she never danced when she was younger.

"I was too busy and never had the time," she said.

It wasn't until she became a Siouxland Center for Active Generations member that Madison discovered a passion for dance.

"And you know what? I never feel tired or sore after dancing," she said. "Instead, I feel invigorated and alive."

Which means Madison can't wait to learn a new genre of dance from Lahrs: hoopla, which is dancing with synchronized props like hoops and tassels.

"Right now, I think I'm up for anything," Madison said with a smile.


Food and Lifestyles reporter

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