WHAT HAS 18 legs, more sequins than Liberace's closet and a combined age of more than 630? The answer is the Golden Girls and Company, a local tap dancing troupe of six women and three men, all older than 70. The dancers put on a show at Florence Bain Senior Center last week in celebration of National Tap Dance Day.
Jackie Dunphy is the group's founder. "I put a little group together to get started and then we got offers to do some shows. Now we're headed for the big time," Dunphy said. "Our calendars are so filled with things to do, we can't do them all."
Since its inception eight years ago, the Golden Girls and Company has performed an average of 20 shows a year.
Dancers in the troupe are Dory Feldman, Anna Butler, Evelyn Whited, Betty Petrogallo, Marlene Neiswinder, Roland "Bud" MacNelly and Dunphy. Gus Baer plays piano and Bill Hardy is the group's master of ceremonies.
They meet once a week for practice at the senior center. "That's our headquarters," Dunphy said. The dancers make their own costumes, making sure they use lots of sequins. "Our costumes are real sparklers. We sparkle a lot," Dunphy said.
The performers' toes weren't the only ones tapping as the troupe delighted the audience with numbers such as "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Goody, Goody." Ms. Senior Maryland, Ann Sophocleus, sang two numbers, accompanied by Baer on piano.
Sophocleus said she was coerced by a friend into competing for the Ms. Senior Maryland title. The pageant is open to women older than 60.
"Basically, Ms. Senior Maryland has the same categories as Miss America, except they do not have a swimsuit competition. Thank God, they do not have a swimsuit competition," she said.
Sophocleus was crowned in early October and represented Maryland in the national pageant that month. Originally from Raleigh, N.C., she now lives in the Beaverbrook neighborhood.
Grace and Raymond DeGrafft offered a change of pace to the program as they glided across the floor, sharing their love of ballroom dancing with the audience. The couple, who met at the Hollywood Ballroom in Silver Spring, have been married for six years. Raymond is 82; Grace is 67. This is the third marriage for both.
He said that he was looking for a way to establish a new relationship and decided to give dancing a try. "Dancing put me in contact, boy to girl, as a way to meet someone," he said.
Love bloomed for Raymond and Grace in a glance across the ballroom floor. "I was by myself, he was by himself," Grace DeGrafft said. "I saw him coming off the dance floor and I said, 'You look like a nice man, you want to dance?' And so we danced. When we danced, we realized we dance the same style. We were compatible at dancing, so we just went on from there."
After the show, Dunphy shared some advice on how to be a successful senior. "You have to have a good sense of humor," she said. "Keep active and be around people that you like. If you feel good, you can really cut a rug."
Howard Community College honored 21 distinguished alumni during the college's 30th commencement ceremony May 17 at Merriweather Post Pavilion. The honorees were selected as part of an annual recognition program for top graduates of HCC who have achieved distinction in their professional or personal lives.
Howard Community College's distinguished alumni for 2001 are: Mary Becker, Clarence Carvell, Brad Coker, Alton Davis, Giannella Garrett, Sandra Haskell, Nichole Hickey, Teresa Kirchner, Marie Kittelberger, Doris Ligon, Kathleen Liparini, Margaret Mauro, Bobbie McAdam, Bobby Mitchell, Bette O'Connor, Jim Robbins, Teresa Schreyer, Sharon Strobel, Mary Armiger, Michael Wolf and Gail Wenocur.
Fly a kite
Children of all ages are invited to test their skills at the Columbia Association's first kite-flying event from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lake Elkhorn Park. Members of the Maryland Kite Society will be on hand to offer demonstrations and advice.
The event is part of the Exterior Home and Garden Improvement Expo, sponsored by the Columbia Association to assist residents interested in renovating or improving their homes.