Young Seniors Dance Like Stars at Mastick

Envision a lithe, graceful dancer, moving rhythmically and deliberately to a pattern of choreographed dance steps, in perfect unison with the carefully measured movements of the dancers around her. You might be thinking of an episode of TV’s "So You Think You Can Dance?" or "Dancing with the Stars." Actually, you could be observing 94-year-old Rose, one of the many youthful senior dancers at Mastick Senior Center’s line dancing classes.

If Rose’s remarkable agility and stamina are indicators; the gentle, enjoyable and exuberant exercise offered by these classes appears to be a fountain of youth.

At Mastick, the waters of that fountain have not only touched the spry and nimble Rose, but also some other "kids" of 88, 77, and 70 years of age. If, as the ruse goes, "You’re only as old as you feel," then these line-dances seem to make you feel like a teenager.

No one at the Mastick line- dancing classes radiates that youthful energy more than instructor Norma Nocera. She has been a dancer since childhood, when she learned the Jitterbug from her parents. She originally displayed her proficiency and love of dancing as a line- dancing student at Mastick, and eventually became accomplished enough to be appointed as an instructor. She now teaches line- dancing at several venues throughout the East Bay; at Mastick, and also at halls in San Leandro and Castro Valley.

Nocera possesses a vast knowledge and repertoire of line- dances, dance steps, dance genres and styles, all performed to an equally vast and varied selection of popular music.

She utilizes those resources to keep her classes captivating, fast-paced and fun. Minimal dancing ability is required, and eager participants learn new steps quickly under Nocera’s friendly, good-natured tutelage.

For new students in her beginners’ class, Nocera taps her musical resources for the country-dance style of the Oak Ridge Boy’s hit tune "Elvira." It’s an easy, simple and enjoyable introduction to line dancing.

As students progress in their ability to memorize and execute intricate line-dancing moves and footwork, Nocera teaches more sophisticated movements, such as the samba-style bossa nova, and a 32-step line-dancing favorite performed to the Robin Thicke tune "Blurred Lines." She also includes numbers that feature the rhythmic, fluid motions of country-and-western swing.

Nocera is quick to extol the health benefits of line dancing. She is an expert at combining dances with a heart-rate raising pace, like "Rock Around The Clock," with gentler, relaxing numbers, the classic "Something Stupid," and the timely "All Bass, No Treble." Her students follow the myriad pace variations happily, with a remarkable ease that belies their senior status.

Nocera says that regular line dancing provides heart-healthy aerobic exercise, and creates pleasant social interaction and mental stimulation.

Medical studies have proven that stimulation of the mind, practiced regularly in line-dancing classes, may significantly reduce the risk of dementia in the elderly.

All this is compelling evidence that Nocera’s line-dancing classes at Mastick are indeed a fountain of youth.

To obtain more information on line dancing and other classes at Mastick, go to or call 747-7500.

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