18 May Red Hot Mummas tapping in to the fountain of youth
In the lead up to Mother’s Day last weekend, Uniting Caroona Kalina in Goonellabah celebrated a special group of Mums. The Red Hot Mummas is a tap troupe made up of a group of grandmas who don’t let age – or mobility – get in the way of a good boogie.
The Red Hot Mummas started back in 2017, led by volunteer Jenny Dowell, who is the former mayor of Lismore. It initially started as an afternoon tea where the women chatted about their younger years and shared some laughs while recalling songs of the 1930s and 40s. It soon became apparent that a couple of the women had danced in the youth and when the music started, their feet moved too.
The troupe now meets every Tuesday afternoon. They start with a cuppa and a catch up and then get into practice. Jenny leads the residents in tap routines specially designed to be performed from a seated position.
At first the group improvised the classic ‘tap’ sound with can lids velcroed to the soles of their shoes to the tune of Que Sera Sera. Eventually, the Mummas were given some ‘real’ tap shoes, some ostrich feathered fans and then the Uniting Lismore Caroona Auxiliary (who operate the Caroona Op Shop in Lismore) sponsored the team with new red team shirts.
The repertoire now extends to about 10 songs and the group has held three concerts. Some of the dancers are seated during the routines but while they may be chair-based, they still have hearts that dance.
The Red Hot Mummas all care for each other and have become close, sharing their joys as well as their down times. Many of them value the friendships they’ve formed and the positive impact it has on them and their audience.
“I like everybody being together, the joy we feel and seeing people’s faces when we’re performing, said Red Hot Mumma, Daphne.
Pat agreed that it’s all about “having friends and fun.”
“It makes me feel younger and its good exercise. I also love the name and the afternoon tea,” said Alice.
Robbie also comes along each week and sees the rehearsals as a special time to visit with her mother and share the fun of the afternoon.
“I enjoy doing tap with mum and singing the old songs. It’s a chance to share a common experience,” she said.
Two gentlemen have also joined the troupe – possibly for the cake and laughter at first – but soon found themselves dancing and helping as support crew making props for concerts. John who refers to himself as an ‘Honorary Mumma’ says he loves “getting in the groove.”
While sadly some members have passed away or are no longer well enough to join the dancing, the Mummas have welcomed new members in recent times and the group continues to expand. Some of the members live with advanced dementia, but once the music starts they are able to follow the routine perfectly.
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