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Utah seniors dance their way to a healthier lifestyle

A instructor leads a group of seated seniors in movement. Each has a pair of drumsticks in hand.
Ivana Martinez
Part of the Raisinets perform their routine to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

It started with a white lie in their senior living community’s daily exercise class. Another participant complimented resident Marilyn Call.

“Somebody said, ‘Gosh, Marilyn, you kick high,’” she said amused. “I mean, we all sit on chairs the entire time because some of [us] are in wheelchairs and lots of us are on walkers. We all have something wrong with us. And I said, well, ‘Didn't you know? I used to be one of the Broadway New York Rockettes?’” 

Call, who is in her 80s, wears a blue fan around her neck and a headband on her forehead against her head of gray hair. She's been living at The Lodge in North Ogden for the last year.

While she admits she wasn’t a part of New York’s famous Radio City troupe, she was a high school cheerleader in Coalville.

“I kind of kid about it, and say all right, now ‘let's kick those legs up like we did before,’ boom boom, you know, hurrah, hurrah,” she said.

A group of seniors pose for a picture in their purple "Raisinets" t-shirts.
Ivana Martinez
Marilyn Call, seated right, hopes the Raisinets can take their show on the road to other senior living communities.

The joke stuck and before long the boisterous group decided to make their own dance troupe.

“I said, ‘Well, you know, maybe we can pretend we're the alumni of the Rockettes,” she laughed. “Maybe we could call ourselves the Raisinets because we're pretty old and we're a little on the wrinkled side.”

Before long they had matching shirts and with the help of their dance instructor and activities director, Tawnya Driever, they quickly created two routines.

Most members jokingly say they were “drafted” into the group, but they smile proudly as certified members of the Raisinets. The group lights up as they sway to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” tapping drumsticks to the beat of the music and kicking where they can.

“It kind of turned into something,” Driever said. “It's been challenging, but it's been fun. Some of them have [gotten] frustrated. And I'm like just, deep breath, is all about having fun. Nobody cares if you mess up. I just want you to have a good time. It's good exercise, and we're helping to get more people involved with it.

But most of all, it gives residents something to look forward to and keeps them active.

It has just really given us kind of a reason to get up and go back to exercise,” Call said.

She’d like to tour other assisted living communities to perform and show that they, too, can get their kicks in.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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