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November 4, 2009 > Seniors go glam with Golden Follies

Seniors go glam with Golden Follies

By Julie Grabowski

Forget your crossword puzzles, reclining chairs, and knitting needles. The Golden Years achieves a whole new meaning when the Golden Follies come to Hayward Saturday, November 14. The Vegas style review is comprised of Bay Area residents wearing their age in high style, from 55 to 92. The 50s era is the setting for the musical stage, and 50 dancers will be tapping out memories from such enduring favorites as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra. A musical salute to ladies will also be in the program along with a scene entitled "Thanks for the Memory."

Sisters Susan Bostwick and Diane Tembey-Stawicki are the creators of the Golden Follies now in its 15th year of glitter and glam. Born and raised in Oakland, the sisters' love of dance began in their mother's studio and launched them into a show business life, performing throughout the country and around the world. The idea for an elaborate all seniors review developed from the rewarding experience of teaching adults and seniors the joy of dance. "I have learned so much from being around seniors," says Tembey-Stawicki, who is continually moved and encouraged by the older set's whole-hearted efforts. "It's so fun. I love all the men and women that are part of the group," she says.

Bostwick and Tembey-Stawicki bring over 25 years of experience to the stage, serving as producers, choreographers, directors, and costumers. The show's glittering and feathery garb are all made by hand and given trial runs in rehearsals. The cast practices twice a week in Dublin and Hayward, drawing dancers from as far afield as Sacramento. "It gives them something to look forward to doing," says Tembey-Stawicki, citing some who have come through health issues to strap the tap shoes back on.

In addition to the follies, dancers have the opportunity to perform in shows at casinos and private parties for various organizations throughout the year. A group has worked with the Oakland Symphony and recently performed at St. Rose Hospital.

"I always wanted to tap dance since I was a little girl," says 67-year-old Jackie Ditmer. Bostwick and Tembey-Stawicki's classes were an answer to that long-time dream and involvement in the follies naturally followed. A retired teacher who has been dancing for eight years, Ditmer believes that most in her profession are hams that need an audience, so the follies gives her the chance to perform and recapture that spotlight. "I feel younger than I have in a long time. It's just so much fun; laughter, movement, dance, the camaraderie; it makes me feel a part of life," she enthuses. "And it keeps memory sharp."

Jean Tucker has been a folly girl for seven years and explains it as "something that I do for myself." An enjoyer of exercise but not one for the gym, a friend suggested tap dancing, and Tucker is now kicking up her heels three times a week between her regular Tuesday class and follies rehearsals. In her 70s and living in Livermore, she also talks about the fun and camaraderie of dancing. "It's just a wonderful experience. We've become like family."

Hayward resident Joann Silveira has been dancing with the Golden Follies since its inception. Shortly before her retirement, Silveira took a tap dance class to perform for a work luncheon and found she enjoyed the experience and wanted to continue. "It's a lot of fun," she says. "We have a good time and we do pretty good for our age." She holds her dancing partners in high esteem and deems Bostwick and Tembey-Stawicki "excellent" and "just marvelous." Turning 80 on her next birthday, Silveira encourages others to come out and give it a try, planning to continue herself for as long as she can keep up.

Whether young or old, the Golden Follies is a unique and delightful experience, sure to put a shine in your eye and a kick in your step.

Tickets are $22, payable by cash or check only. There are no refunds or exchanges. To purchase tickets or for more information call (510) 785-8097 or (925) 803-9020, or email thegoldenfollies@yahoo.com.

Golden Follies
Saturday, November 14
2 p.m.
Chabot College Auditorium
25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward
(510) 785-8097

Tickets: $22
(510) 785-8097 or (925) 803-9020

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