Walk into the on a typical Monday morning and you’ll encounter a fairly quiet scene. Home of the St. Louis Park Senior Program, the building’s activity consists of people talking, reading the day’s paper or playing cards over coffee.
Then 11:30 a.m. rolls around and you hear it: “tap, tap, tap.” As you enter the Lenox auditorium, the noise gets louder. Soon, you hear music blaring on top of the tapping and see a dance troupe getting warmed up.
Meet the Satin Dolls, St. Louis Park’s senior tap dance group. For the past 22 years, these women have been staying active, entertaining crowds and breaking down barriers.
“Who would have thought at my age, in my 60s, that I’d be able to do what I love?” said five-year member and choreographer Barb Brauch. “It proves that you don’t have to give up the things you love just because you get older.”
The group’s 12 members range in age from 55 to 83 and come from throughout the west metro. Once a week, they gather at Lenox to go over some basic tap steps and rehearse their latest number. Currently, they’re working on a holiday routine, which they’ll perform at a University of Minnesota women’s basketball game on Friday.
While the Williams Arena crowd will be big, it’ll be nothing the Satin Dolls aren’t used to. In October, the dancers got to perform at a Minnesota Lynx home playoff game, then were invited back to participate in the team’s championship parade in downtown Minneapolis.
“I don’t think we had ever performed in front of 15,000 people before,” group member Stephanie Brody of Minneapolis said. “It’s usually like 30 people.”
No matter the size of the crowd, the Satin Dolls always get a great response. Their short performance during the Lynx playoff game drew a standing ovation.
“The audience is always amazed,” Brauch said.
Added group member Sharon Helm, who is from St. Louis Park: “They love to see those old ladies out there.”
Jokingly, group members say their dance moves make their husbands jealous. But in all seriousness, they know they’re not only staying in great shape, they’re setting a great example for women of all ages.
“I think it keeps me younger, it keeps me in shape,” said group member Lonnie Peterson of Orono. “I feel great at my age of 69. I do. I feel wonderful.”
Trish Hazard Smith, the group’s oldest member at 83, echoed those sentiments. Though she is legally blind, she still is able to keep up with her dancing counterparts. And she has no plans of slowing down.
“(I’ll keep dancing) as long as I can, as long as they will allow me to,” Hazard Smith said. “They take good care of me.”