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Dancin’ their way to the top

Maris Grove couple auditions for new Paula Abdul dance show

Created date

October 26th, 2010

Downstairs in the basement of the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio in New York City, the click of tap shoes bounces off the walls and ceiling. Kids ranging in ages from six to 19 run through the halls, following each other, laughing, perspiring. You can tell which groups of kids are linked through costumes, wigs, and makeup. There are even two boys who practice break-dancing one walks on crutches the back of his t-shirt says Lazy Legz. The other is missing a leg altogether and takes off his prosthesis to dance. The majority of these kids are from dance schools in the region and have been personally invited to audition for the new Paula Abdul dance show on CBS called Live to Dance. But these kids aren t the only ones auditioning. Evelyn and Alvin Jacobs, known on stage and to friends as Ev and Al, received a letter in the mail after the casting director saw a YouTube video of them line dancing at the Maris Grove Follies. The only adults at the audition, Ev and Al are 78 and 79, and they fit in as if at home as they stretch and practice their dance moves right alongside their younger competitors. But that s not all they do amongst the hustle and bustle of wardrobe changes and jostled nerves, Ev and Al smile and encourage every dancer to do their best as they wish them luck. And that s just part of Ev and Al s charm.

The audition

The casting director instantly fell in love with Ev and Al. As they stood in front of the camera stating their names and ages and a brief sentence about why they were auditioning, Ev and Al did what they do best smiled and charmed. They were given a radius in which they could dance, mapped out by green pieces of tape on the floor. The music was cued and they made their first attempt at the Latin dance to the Mambo No. 5. They asked if they could do the segment again, and the casting director agreed. The second attempt was all charm, and the casting director s ponytail bobbed up and down as she danced in her seat and cheered the couple on. She encouraged them to do their wardrobe change and get back as quickly as possible; she couldn t wait to see Ev and Al s second dance. Though Ev has been dancing for 40 years and Al for 30, they came to the art later in life. Evelyn was a musician, more specifically a pianist, and Al was a mathematics teacher, who retired just last year. Dancing was something they just didn t do. Ev worked in a psychiatric hospital with juveniles to help them with music therapy, but she knew intuitively that the kids needed something more than just sitting and listening to music. They needed to move. So after a series of serendipitous events, Ev was introduced to dance as a form of movement therapy. She spent the next several years training to teach people movement therapy and became a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, one that teaches people to reconnect the body to the mind to improve posture, chronic pain, and overall well-being. Ev still teaches a class, Awareness through Movement, every week, and she also leads the advanced line dancing class atMaris Grove.

Best time of our lives

Ev and Al have lived at Maris Grove for a little under two years, and they say they ve really been able to spread their wings and experience more of what they love. This time is the best time of our lives, Ev says. And Al agrees, When we were younger, we worried about getting older. Now we can just be ourselves and do what we love. And that centers around movement. They are a couple who believes that everything is connected, mind and body, breath and movement. One day, Ev and Al had attended a performance of the Alvin Ailey dance company. Ev has always loved African Dance, and Judith Jamison was one of the prominent principal dancers at that company before she became its artistic director. At the performance Ev and Al attended, they were standing outside when Jamison walked up to them and recognized Al as her mathematics teacher in high school. They were overjoyed. The fact that Ev and Al auditioned at the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio, the first time they ve ever auditioned for anything, seems to be filled with simple, beautiful twists of fate.

What s next?

After their second country western dance piece to Billy Joel s All Shook Up, Ev and Al were ushered upstairs where a young man who looked and moved like a dancer himself told them to wait to be interviewed. When asked by the couple if everyone gets sent upstairs, the young man simply said, No, not everyone. Once the interview door opened and the boys who had been practicing their break-dancing emerged from the room, Ev and Al smiled and entered. A good sign indeed. Though they re trying not to let their nerves get the best of them as they go about their everyday lives, Ev and Al are eagerly awaiting the next call. This audition was the first part of three, and if they make it to the next stage, they ll be dancing in front of Paula Abdul herself. This all has been very surreal, Ev says. It s like we re dancing around in a dream. And it s a dream they never would have pursued or even taken seriously without the support and encouragement of Maris Grove andErickson Living.Of course, it would be a dream come true if they make it to the next stage, but Ev and Al have already danced their way to the top, and no matter what, they re not stopping anytime soon.