Students at Two Left Feet Dance Studio in the Kentlands learned to promenade, fox trot and box step, but one lesson really stuck out for the 12 senior citizens and teenage girls waltzing around the room on Friday; age doesn't matter.
Rachael Golden/The Gazette
Lindsey Stinson, 16, and Elizabeth Ermolina, 69, both of Gaithersburg, waltz around Two Left Feet Dance Studio in the Kentlands.
For the past two weeks, a summer teen dance camp and a yearlong senior citizen class have combined for hourly lessons. Instructor Christina Vidovich blended the groups together to avoid summer scheduling conflicts, creating a first-time, age-variety dance class, she said.
But closing the generation gap gave both groups exposure to more than just dance.
"Being around young people keeps you young," said Mary Lou Habib, 72. "You seem to feed off of their enthusiasm and good spirit."
Habib and her husband, Ed, have taken lessons from Vidovich for about a year and a half, and they welcomed the opportunity to share their class with the teens, she said.
"They help boost the energy," Ed, 77, added. "They can nail the fast motions while we're trying to keep up."
Vidovich steps behind the studio's curtain after a short warm up to turn on a tune. "How Much is That Doggy in the Window" blares through the small room as Vidovich counts ... one ... two ... three ... four, prompting the age-integrated couples to start waltzing.
"This is a great opportunity for the girls to get exposure to this type of dance," Vidovich said, noting that most of the teen camp focuses on fast, modern dance that the girls can do on their own. "It shows them that they can learn a lot from their elders ... including a particular dance style."
In between songs and sets, the teenagers bounce around the room, practicing other moves while the seniors wait for their next instruction.
"I don't think they ever get tired," said Elizabeth Ermolina, 69. Another song starts and all of the students scurry around to find a different partner.
"It's nice to dance with people that have experience," said Kelsey Johnson, 14. She and the other girls take the partnering opportunity to talk with the older women, she added.
"Sometimes we'll talk about any cute guys that pass the window."
"We can all really learn from each other," chimed in Jenny Tolbert, 13.
The groups have practiced everything from the Cha-Cha to swing dancing together, and the age difference helps to add a new style and flavor to old favorites, Vidovich said.
"No matter what age, they all have the enthusiasm to try new things," she added.
At the end of their last class together, waltzing aside, the girls turn on a pumping disco song and start a line dance. They pull the seniors in and most of the class struts from side to side, clapping hands and stomping their feet.
Vidovich laughed at the scene. "That's what makes it work."