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Come on Eileen! Senior dance group member celebrates at 21
Date posted: 23 May 2018
88-year-old Eileen Burrows is one of the more senior members of the Growing Older (Dis) Gracefully Dance company, in Liverpool. The retired school nurse is about to perform in its celebration of 21 years of dancing.
Eileen Burrows with the Growing Older Dis(Gracefully) Dance company
Back in 2003, recently retired and my children grown up, I found I had time on my hands. Then I saw an advertisement in my local library for afternoon Liverpool Institute classes; there was an initiative to get the over 50s more active. I thought the one for Historical Dance sounded quite interesting and went along, thinking, “I’ve never danced before; this might be helpful in my drama and musical work.”
 
There I met members of the Growing Older (Dis)Gracefully Dance company, or GODS, and (despite what one company member told me much later) I enjoyed the session very much. The following Wednesday I turned up at the GODS session and have been there ever since. So what was it they’d said? “Who’s that old dear in the corner looking so sternly at us, we won’t see her again!”
 
In those first years I danced at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral with 800 other dancers; I stood on an exposed 4ft high stage in the local park (I think it was raining); and I had a starring role in a piece called ‘Next’, set in a doctor’s waiting room. Here my flair for drama came to the fore as I harassed the poor receptionist. By now I was hooked. Little did I know what was before me, or perhaps I should have known!

Why do I keep going? First and foremost it is the people in the group. When I walk in the door I am always greeted warmly; there is always some exciting conversation and my troubles are left outside the door. I have made very good friends and there is a sense of belonging and fellowship. As one company member has said, “It was the dancing that bought us here but it’s the friendships that keep us here.” It is so much fun.

Of course, there are lots of other things that keep me going. I am certainly more flexible, strong and balanced than I would have been, my brain has been kept very active as I keep having to learn new dances and no one will take no for an answer when I say I cannot do something; it’s always a case of “give it a try”. Our 21st anniversary programme has ten live dances, enough to tax anyone’s memory, and even though I am not doing all of them I am sure that being part of the group has helped me to live to be a very healthy 88-year-old.
  
What are my greatest memories? In 2006, dancing our South Asian style piece and in a local square, in the pouring rain, with only some Spanish football fans there to watch; we were soaked. Then, in 2009, we performed the very first piece the company did way back in 1997, at the Elmhurst School of Dance, in Birmingham. The stage was so large that at the end we almost crawled off having been determined to fill every inch of it. In 2012 we joined with the Welsh Choral Society, at Liverpool Cathedral, for its Titanic concert. The atmosphere was breath-taking and then, of course, our trip to Sadler’s Wells, in 2015… who can describe the feeling of being on a stage where so many inspirational dancers had been before?

This year, building up to Coming of Age, our 21st Anniversary performance at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre on 12 June, has been challenging and very hard work. I have had many aches and pains that have meant I’m not able to dance as much as I would have liked but I’ve had the opportunity to watch the programme coming together. It is amazing to see how some dancers have grown as performers. All are working to remember a very impressive and varied repertoire. There have been ups and downs but now, just weeks before the big day, there is a growth in confidence and a feeling we are getting there!
 
It has been wonderful to see how the group has become more unified, with lots of people stepping up to take on roles they would previously not have done. Despite not being able to dance as much myself, I am still made to feel a valuable member of the group. We are going to have great evening.

So what a journey it’s been, so many fun-filled years and experiences that I would never have had if I had not been a member of the Growing Older (Dis)Gracefully Dance company.


Eileen Burrows
Dancer – Growing Older (Dis)Gracefully Dance company

The Growing Older (Dis)Gracefully 21st Anniversary performance, Coming of Age, will be held at the Unity Theatre, Liverpool on 12 June 2018 (7.00pm).

For further information, go to https://godsdanceblog.wordpress.com/ or you can search for Growing Older (Dis)Gracefully Dance on Facebook.