Elita Sohmer Clayman
While watching Dancing with the Stars these past few weeks,
I was impressed the way most people are looking at ballroom
dancing. People who never even thought about going dancing
were becoming interested. Others were stunned that people
still ‘do’ ballroom dance. Others were overwhelmed that
people spend money to learn to dance and to maybe start to
compete. Yet, others were thinking about beginning to learn
It is amazing that a program bent on showing professional
teachers trying to teach stars from other fields to learn to
dance in a short time was so overwhelmingly popular. Maybe
the average citizen needed a break in today’s bad news,
political happenings and many bad things befalling them.
Maybe they wanted space in their lives to see some fun
doings going on with well known personalities. I heard one
so called person of knowledge say that Kristi Yamaguchi was
a pro in dancing and should not be called new to it because
she was a professional ice skater and competitor. Kristi may
be a professional ice skater but ice skating and ballroom
dancing are completely separate. True she had the
sophistication to skate her self but ballroom dancing with a
teacher is distinct from skating by one’s self.
Dancing with the Stars also gave the impression that
ballroom is hard and hard it is to learn, however, ordinary
people do not take a lesson for six to eight hours a day,
seven days a week to master a dance. Average people take one
lesson a week for months and years to master dances. The
hoopla over these stars being so good or not so good in that
particular dance was wrongly interpreted. Learning something
fast as these stars are doing is not the normal way of
becoming a ballroom dancer.
There is a Chinese saying that states ‘when someone shares
with you something of value, you have an obligation to share
it with others.’ So it should be with us ballroom dancers.
We should spread the word of
what dancing means to us and how if can affect someone new.
All of us who have been dancing for several decades know
what benefits we can acquire from this hobby and even if our
bunions get sorer and our ankles may ache, we still go on
with it. I wonder sometimes if my aching feet and bone
spurred heels are the result of my dancing so much or would
I have them anyway. If so, it still would be worth all of
the discomfort I have now and then because the dancing has
given much meaning to my life.
I have met hundreds and maybe thousands of new friends that
I would not have if I had not danced. I have spent hours of
happiness dancing and anticipating going dancing. I have
dressed up in pretty clothes and presented myself in
showcases before my peers. I have competed in competitions
at an advanced age and reaped the rewards of trophies,
medals, compliments and certificates. My home is filled with
shelves of these rewards and even though they are dust
traps, I do not mind dusting them off weekly. I get a thrill
out of seeing them displayed on the shelves and know that I
certainly achieved, accomplished and earned them.
If we seniors worry about tomorrow too much and we are
afraid of things, this steals happiness from today. I heard
that comment on a soap opera I watch daily. It was a quite
relevant line and very worthwhile to quote. Many seniors and
not yet seniors worry very much about tomorrow when today is
just as important. I see today in my grandchildren’s eyes as
they go about being involved in today. Young folks do not
always think about tomorrow the way seniors do. True, one
must think of the future in terms of money, health and
situations but we should dwell also on enjoying today. Today
is important and we should do our best each day to get the
most out of it whether it is work, pleasure, vacation or
just plain old living.
Living is important each day and being grateful to be here
is also important. As I approach my seventy-fourth birthday
this June twenty-first, I realize that I outlived in age my
father, Joseph B. Sohmer who
passed away at a few days after his seventy-second birthday
and my brother Herbert M. Sohmer
who passed away a few days short of his seventy-third
birthday. So I am doing well as far as the family life span
was or is and my mom Lea W. Sohmer
lived to be only seventy-seven which is young nowadays.
So seniors need to grasp that today is just as important as
tomorrow and we need to enjoy every aspect of it whether it
be watching our grandchildren grow and succeed or watching
ourselves grow and succeed. We can do so much more now than
my father and mother did in those days because there is much
more for us to do and attain. We have computers that keep
our minds and fingers active and other activities like
ballroom dancing that keep our feet, arms, shoulders, minds
and souls functioning and energetic.
Once many years ago, when I was about thirty-one and my
children were five and one year of age, my mom was here and
she was about fifty-eight and looked well for her age, Her
hair was slightly sprinkled with gray in her red colored
hair and she opened the front door because there was noise
outside. The neighborhood next
door ‘bad boy’ looked at her and spouted “look the old lady
just opened her door to say something to me.” He viewed my
mom as an old lady and categorized her as something below
normal. She was smart and had gone back to work at age
fifty-seven when my dad died .She held a responsible
position with the State of Maryland and was doing well and
looked lovely. Her hair was fixed and she dressed sweetly
and yet this bad boy kid looked upon her as something aged.
Of course, now he is her age almost and I see him around
visiting his mom and dad who still live next door to us and
he himself is not as attractive at his age of fifty as my
mom was at fifty-eight. She had accomplished more at her age
than he has now at his age.
So age is in the eye of the beholder whether it be a bad boy
type person or a regular person.
We are what we are because we made ourselves that way. We
are and will always be unique and spectacular.
Ballroom dancers are a special group of people who I think
mature well because they have the exercise and the stamina
to dance at an advanced age and who think of themselves as
still young and able to do things. An old time comedian
Billie Burke once said that only ‘cheese ages.’ We are not
cheese, we develop.
So worrying about tomorrow and being afraid does steal
happiness from today and when someone shows you something of
value then we as ballroom dancers have an obligation to
share it with others. That we do
by promoting ballroom dance to the world and when we talk
about it and share our views about it, then our obligation
becomes a promise, a pledge and a responsibility to others.
Then it becomes dancing with a star. We are the star for now
and the dancing is the ultimate goal.
Elita Sohmer Clayman