Photo by Katie Stewart.
The Showstoppers, including Miss Senior Alabama Frankie Cashion, Coquette Barnes and Barbara Johnson, practice their dance to Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly With Me.”
Over the squeals of kids at the Children’s Dance Foundation, a slight tap-tap-tap can be heard in the background.
Peaking around the hallway, you’ll see women of all ages tap dancing. They are the Showstoppers.
The ladies tap dance group has been meeting for over a decade, never stopping to slow down.
“I look forward to every Wednesday when I get to dance my heart out,” Barbara Johnson said. “It’s by far my favorite day of the week.”
The dance group has been recognized nationally. A Miss Senior Alabama winner came from their classes, and they have been asked to perform annually at the Miss Senior America pageant.
Class teacher Rita Childers has been with them for every step of the journey.
“It has been an absolutely amazing experience,” Childers said. “These ladies are fantastic and have so much energy. They deserve all the recognition they are given.”
With ages ranging from 30s to 80s, conversation is always interesting as they learn together and grow in friendship.
“The diversity of the women here is so fantastic,” Patsy Steed said. “The class is simply for people who love dance, so we know we will all have at least one thing in common.”
The love of dance in these ladies’ hearts matches their incredible talent, as well.
“I had always wanted to do an adult tap class,” Steed said. “I heard about Showstoppers and thought I would check them out. I was amazed at how good these ladies were. I had a lot of catching up to do, but I did it, and now I’m with them tapping away every Wednesday afternoon.”
Although Showstoppers has been around since 1998, many of the women originated in UAB’s senior entertainment group, MedWise. This group consisted of stand-up comics, dancers, acrobats and more. However, due to funding issues, it was cut, and thus Showstoppers was formed.
“I’m one of the girls who has been here the longest, since MedWise,” Bess Constantine said. “The group has been great for me because I’m not originally from Birmingham. It’s allowed me to meet all kinds of women and see parts of Birmingham I didn’t think I would get to see.”
Some ladies have been friends since they were 18, while others met just last week. Even leaving the studio the women can be overheard making plans to head to Jackson’s after their class for an afternoon treat.
“I love the camaraderie of the group,” Constantine said. “We all just love to dance. Anyone is welcome, as long as you know that you’re never too old to get out there; as long as you can walk, you can dance.”
Showstoppers meet every Wednesday at the Children’s Dance Foundation. For more information, email Rita Childers at email@example.com or call CDF at 870-0073.