For four minutes on a recent Friday night, a group of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community women were center stage in front of thousands of football fans.
And the dancing ladies didn’t disappoint.
On June 17, the Salt River Senior Steppers, a dance group made up of Community seniors ages 55 and older, performed for the second straight year at an Arizona Rattlers halftime show. A little more than 11,000 people watched the Rattlers beat Philadelphia Soul 80-63, but it was the halftime show that SRPMIC members came to see.
The 13 seniors, dressed in matching dark-blue blouses and black pants, danced together to a four-minute song on the football field at Talking Stick Resort Arena in downtown Phoenix. The group danced to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.”
“It was really exciting, just being out there representing our tribe as far as our Steppers group,” member Pauline Smith said. “We feel really proud of it.”
Smith, 58, joined the group two years ago because she loves to dance. Others, like Francis Cashoya, 68, and Sharilyn Belone, 69, joined to stay active.
“I want to make sure my body keeps moving,” Cashoya said. “I know sometimes my body doesn’t want to go where I want it to go, but if I keep dancing I can keep moving it. I enjoy it.”
A back issue forced Belone to use a cane, but it didn’t get in the way of her dancing on the football field.
“I think exercise is very important and I wanted to keep myself going,” she said. Being a Senior Stepper, “it’s very exciting to me. Just because you’re an elder doesn’t mean you’re going to stop at a certain age and quit. I keep moving.”
Senior Steppers was formed in 2008. The group practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is raising money to travel to a conference in New York later this year, group leader Maria Chavez said.
The Steppers perform at area events, parades and conferences. The group’s dance style is a form of line dancing to a variety of music, from chicken scratch to hip-hop.
“We are always trying to promote a healthy lifestyle and to show seniors in the Community that just because you are an elder, it doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy life and have fun at it,” Chavez said.
For more information about the Senior Steppers or how to donate to the group, email Maria.Chavez@srpmid-ed.org.