A group of Lagniappe Nursing Home residents are putting on their tap shoes for a Father's Day program on June 12.
The group have formed a new dance line called the Timeless Tappers after learning some basic tap dancing steps in a new class taught by Linda Lockwood. During classes and performances, residents are seated in either a chair or a wheelchair while they perform different dance steps. Lockwood owns many different size tap shoes, walking canes and costumes which she allows the residents to use during classes and performances.
Lockwood also has residents do walking cane exercises and warm ups before each class. Using different maneuvers of the cane, the exercises work the triceps, biceps, wrists and calf muscles.
“The tap dance steps are very basic and made simple and suitable for seniors or anyone without any previous dance experience,” Lockwood said.
The group practices one day a week for an hour. Throughout the year, Lockwood plans to teach the group six basic songs.
“They're doing really good,” Lockwood said. “They've really picked up the steps. It's been a lot of fun and I've enjoyed working with them.”
Lockwood first began learning about rhythm in school where she played drums in the percussion section of the school band. After graduating, she taught dance and drum line for a private school for two years. For 20 years, she was a clown by profession and did character performances in shows that used both song and dance to entertain audiences. She also took clogging classes along with her daughters when they were young.
In 2011, she became a certified Resident Activity Director with the state of Louisiana and began working in a nursing home. It was during this time that she began teaching basic tap dancing to residents.
“I was surprised by how easily the residents learned the steps and how we were performing for their families and other residents in no time at all,” Lockwood said.
She has been working recently to put together a book of her cane exercises and tap routines. She hopes that other nursing homes will want to buy her book and offer similar programs to their residents.
“I find that tap dancing has been the greatest pleasure to entertain the residents, both those tap dancing and those observing,” Lagniappe Activities Director Kate McLendon said.
The Father's Day program will be the Timeless Tappers' first performance. It will be held at 2 p.m. June 12 at Lagniappe Nursing Home.