Tap-dancing Grandma never gave up on her dream

Shirley Allen (front left) and The Diamonds are ready for their musical Singing in the rain
Shirley Allen (front left) and The Diamonds are ready for their musical Singing in the rain

You’re never to old to take up a new hobby according to Central Queensland grandmother Shirley Allen, who began tap dancing for nine years ago.

Shirley told ABC News that she never had the opportunity to dance when she was growing up, but she never gave up on her dream.

“I was born before the Second World War and of course there weren’t many classes around, especially tap dancing,” Mrs Allen said.

This was pushed even further out of her reach when she was 12 and her mother became ill. Mrs Allen eventually had to stay home and care for her younger sister.

Instead, she watched Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers films and became enthralled by the speed tapping of Anne Miller.

“I was always envious of a young girl who lived next to my grandmother’s, and she used to go to ballet,” Mrs Allen said.

Life just slipped by. “But I always kept this in my mind.” Nine years ago, that all changed.

“I found myself with time on my hands. I saw this dance class advertised for adult ladies and I decided, ‘Oh well. Why not attend?'”

“The girls are really lovely, and they treat me like I am one of them.”

Technology helps with dance practice

There have been some challenges with taking on a new hobby at this age.

Shirley has become an inspiration to other seniors
Shirley has become an inspiration to other seniors

Mrs Allen said it was difficult at times to learn new steps, but her teacher would break it down so she and other could understand — and she was not averse to using some extra help.

“Although I must confess now with the modern technology I put it on my phone and practise at home,” she laughed.

“It gives me something to do, it keeps me fit, keeps my mind active — at my age you can get dementia but I don’t think there’s any fear of that.”

Mrs Allen said it was never too late to take up a hobby, and age was no barrier.

“I think as you get older you should have a hobby for exercise, to keep your mind active, and it gives you a much brighter outlook,” she said.

“I still feel a bit strange when people say ‘You’re tap dancing at your age’, but I enjoy it.

“It’s really good for friendships, it gets you out of the house, if you have any worries at home you go there and if they see you looking sad, there’s a group hug and then everything goes on with your class again.”

And can she imagine a life without dancing?

“No,” she laughed. “No!”


Source: ABC Regional News

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