- Associated Press - Friday, November 27, 2015

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - There’s one place where one would be hard-pressed to find a frown.

That’s during a practice of the Tip Toe Tappers at the North View Senior Center, held Monday and Thursday afternoons.

With 18 sets of shoes tapping to the music Monday, Nov. 16, there was plenty of noise. But the dancers topped the sounds of their tapping with laughter and joyful discussion during their break.

“They are such a happy crowd,” said Nancy Shaw of North Ogden. The 82-year-old Shaw said dancing with the group, which has participants ranging in age from 59 to 93, is just what she needs for her regular dose of positive energy.

“They are always happy,” she said. “I love it. I came down and watched them and then I joined.”

Shaw, originally from Scotland, said she’s danced all her life and couldn’t be more excited than when she is with the group.

Tip Toe Tappers started four years ago with eight dancers and has grown to 27.

“It grew so fast, just because we were having so much fun,” said Lucy Parkinson, who started tap dancing with the original group at 84 years old. Now, she’s 88.

Yoko Mai, 73, of North Ogden, who is new to the group, said the dancing offers way more than an enjoyable afternoon.

“I am pre-diabetic,” Mai said. “About a year ago, I had to take medications. … Then I came here. Now, I don’t have to take medications.”

Mai said she enjoys the dancing even though she has never done it before. She said the moves aren’t as easy as they look.

“So many people already know so they don’t teach from basic,” she said. “I always watch the people in front of me. I do OK.”

“Probably the biggest majority of us have never tapped,” said Mary Musselman, 77, of North Ogden. “I do a lot of stumble and fumble. … I just love it!”

“It’s a good way to make friends,” said Dianne Sasso, 69, of North Ogden.

Sasso said she joined the group after a friend wanted to go to the center for some yoga. “I found a lot of different activities,” she said. “I tried to do all of them. I enjoyed every part of it.”

One of the most popular members of the group is 93-year-old Ruth Johnson of Ogden.

Having danced all of her life, the members said Johnson performs with a huge smile every time. “She has the biggest smile of all of us,” Sasso said. “She is quite an inspiration.”

The group’s seamstress is Hilma Thirkill of Ogden.

“None of them can sew any more, they say,” Thirkill said. She believes making costumes for the performances is satisfying, and she does the work using two artificial knees and an artificial hip.

“I come to dance for exercise,” she said. “I have a bad heart. I used to be in an exercise group. When they quit, I came dancing.”

She and other members said they are happy to share their camaraderie with others.

Chris Peterson, 55, of Ogden and her mother, Jeri Noble of Pleasant View, were there for the first time. The two said they couldn’t believe how happy everyone was, but they were having a difficult time keeping up and hoped to improve over time.

Peterson said her mother knew another woman who was in a similar group in Las Vegas a decade ago.

“She wanted to try this because her friend had so much fun,” she said.

Leader Donna Anderson-Say, 73, said the only requirement to join Tip Toe Tappers is that a woman is 55 years old, because that’s the requirement to enjoy services at the North View Senior Center.

Joining is free, and Anderson-Say said she has a collection of 10 pairs of tap shoes for would-be dancers to try before they start tapping.

The group performs on a regular basis whenever they get requests.

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Information from: Standard-Examiner, https://www.standard.net

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