Broadway in Howard County: Active Aging Program gets people up and dancing to musical numbers

Mel Marcus said he is not big into exercising but wanted something active to do in the colder months to replace his walking and yardwork activities.

“I wanted something that would be light exercise but fun,” the 76-year-old Columbia resident said.


He found just what he was looking for with the Howard County Recreation and Parks department’s “Dance on Broadway — or Feel Like You Can” series of dance classes this past winter.

Less than 30 miles from the city in the title, Marcus and six other students were dancing their way through “Good Morning Baltimore” from the musical “Hairspray” on a recent Friday morning in the Cedar Lane Park recreation room in Columbia.


“I like music, I don’t like silence,” Marcus said. “I always have music playing.”

Lisa Yanguas, a local dance teacher and choreographer, began teaching the class in the fall. She comes up with her own choreography to compliment the shows.

Whether you are always on the go or just looking to kick back and relax, you’ll find an activity that fits your interests — from hiking and biking to bird-watching and golf.

The class is for anyone over the age of 55 as part of the department’s Active Aging Program.

“I like to think I’m exercising their body and their mind,” Yanguas said. “I’m tickled that so many senior students are doing so well with it.”


Ruth Coleman, the county’s Active Aging Program manager, said, “The 65-plus population [in Howard County] is predicted to almost double in 2040.”

As a result of the expected increase, Recreation and Parks is starting to prepare now by adding more types of programming, including photography, glass art, table tennis, and other sport and fitness classes, Coleman said. From fall 2017 to fall 2018, the department has added more than 20 new programs.

According to the most recent figures from the U.S. census, 13.4 percent of Howard’s population is 65 years old or older.

In the fall, Yanguas had six students sign up for the inaugural session; the class has now expanded to nine participants for the third session.

After having fall and winter sessions, which ended in November and early March, Yanguas’ students said they couldn’t wait for the upcoming spring session that begins at the end of April, she said, so she put on a mini-winter session for three weeks in March.

Even in some questionable winter weather, the dancers came each week, wanting to get their dancing steps in.

Yanguas starts her class with a warm-up consisting of inhales and exhales, hip circles, marching in place, and stretching from the left and right side of the body.

Then her students start dancing. They ran through the “Hairspray” dance a few times, which ended with a slow turn, each dancer striking a pose.

Yanguas then started teaching new choreography to the song “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid” musical, including salsa steps.

The Point Fitness in Columbia didn’t attract many customers when it opened last fall, so its owners decided to offer the gym’s services for free, working on a donation-based model.

Many of the dancers had smiles on their faces throughout each performance, despite any missteps.

Janet Currotto, 67, of Catonsville, was one of those students.

While she’s “still shaky” with “The Little Mermaid” number, Currotto has enjoyed the dance classes because the choreography makes it different from an ordinary aerobics class.

“You have to think and dance,” she said.

Currotto also takes a ballet class and has fun at dance classes because “you can express yourself.”

The class ended with each student taking a bow or curtsy.

The mini-winter session wrapped up March 29, where the students finalized their rendition of “Good Morning Baltimore” and began learning “Under the Sea.” In the fall, they danced to “Razzle Dazzle” from “Chicago.” The spring session will continue with “Under the Sea” and hopefully another piece, Yanguas said.

The upcoming spring Broadway dance session begins April 26, running for six weeks from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the Kinetics Dance Center in Ellicott City. The spring session is $65.

Interested participants can contact Coleman at 410-313-7311 or rucoleman@howardcountymd.gov.

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