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Swing your partner

Square dancing a great change- of- pace winter activity at Maris Grove

Created date

December 20th, 2011

What activity helps you stay physically fit, mentally sharp, and is also loads of fun? Square dancing! If you ve never swung your partner do-si-do, it s not too late to start. Anyone who is reasonably agile and alert can get up to speed in a short time, says Bob Richmond. He chairs the square dancing group at Maris Grove, Erickson Living s community in Delaware County, Pa. Tag along with him or Pat Faulkner any Friday afternoon to Maris Grove s Meadowlark Terrace clubroom and begin moving to a happy beat. Singles and couples alike, as well as those who don t live at the community, are invited to give this a whirl.

Twists and turns

A professional caller leads the square dancers through twists and turns that might sound complicated until you realize there s a rhythm and pattern to this style of dancing. Pat Faulkner, who hadn t square danced since grade school, joined Maris Grove s original square dance group when she moved from Brookhaven, Pa., in 2007. I try to do active things, she says. She bowls, plays bocce, and takes trips with the community s travel group. She also loves card games, the theater, reading, and knitting. Those things keep me sitting down, she says. I square dance because it has me physically moving for two hours. It s also mentally [stimulating.] You have to remember the steps, which way you go, and which hand you use. You do have to pay attention, says Bob, but the caller sings or calls out each move in advance.

Round and round

Bob finds square dancing simpler than ballroom dancing. You don t need Western shirts or crinolines, just comfortable shoes. He recommends it as a great change-of-pace winter activity and an opportunity to socialize. His interest in square dancing was reawakened a few years ago when he and his wife Pattie went on a Canadian cruise with other Maris Grove residents. One evening in a pub in Nova Scotia, the featured Celtic musicians invited audience members to square dance. Bob hadn t square danced for decades, but he volunteered. I had a ball, he says. I decided this was something we had to have at Maris Grove. Two years ago, with support from Community Resources Manager Jenn Allen, he restarted Maris Grove s lapsed square dance group and recruited Wilmington, Del., caller Chris Phelan. Phelan is a young, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable leader who dances along with the participants and enjoys their camaraderie. Last year he invited them to join in an off-campus square dancing event. We took our square and made it part of a large organization for one evening in Wilmington, says Bob. Former Wilmington residents themselves, the Richmonds believe Maris Grove has given them the best of both worlds. There s nothing like Maris Grove in Wilmington, says Bob. It s rich with amenities like an on-site medical center, chapel, pharmacy, bank, and three restaurants. And one meal a day is included in its monthly service package. Maris Grove is also close to Wilmington where the Richmonds still have ties, such as Bob s participation in a barbershop quartet. That s about the only thing Maris Grove doesn t have, he says. At least, not yet.