Valerie Baadh Garrett, founder of Agile Aging as well as The Movement Academy Project. is a lifelong dancer, still going strong. Take a look at this photo by Jason Chuang of Valerie dancing with Craig Chen in a performance of “Alle Tanzen” danced with the company of Academy of Danse Libre at a 2012 show in Palo Alto, CA. “Although it isn’t always easy to keep up the fast pace our directors set in rehearsals, I work hard to train outside the rehearsal studio so I can do my best,” says Garrett. At age 60, she’s certainly not old, but she is the eldest of the dancers in the young company of 20 – 40 year olds.
Taking advice from her own teachers and mentors, she points to Daniel Nagrin’s book “How To Dance Forever” as inspiration. “Basically, Nagrin says we must dance every day. What that means to me is to stay connected to my body’s spaces inside and out, and to how music moves and flows with me. I do yoga. I stretch and work out incognito at my gym, Gold’s Gym in SOMA, where I’m just one forgettable older lady among the eye candy there. I take special time for the health and strength of my hardworking allies, my feet, which ache for the first time in my life after dancing for hours in heels while in costume with DL (Academy of Danse Libre). I travel a lot nowadays, to China and Taiwan and the east coast, leading workshops in movement for executive leadership, for women’s wellness, for teacher training, for caregivers of the elderly, and for schools and parent groups. Fortunately, everyone loves to move and to dance with me, so dance is usually a part of my work day too.”
“I’m forever inspired by two special dance teachers in my life, Bella Lewitzky, who was my teacher in my teens and early twenties, and Sybil Shearer, whom I met when she was in her late 80s. She told me I needed to get back into performing again, at the ripe age of 40 at that time. When I whimpered something about being old, she shook her head at me and shouted, ‘You’re in your baby shoes!” I’ll never forget that moment. She was right.”
Dance every day. Dance alone. Dance with a pillow. Dance with your friends and family. Just shake it loose, and get moving. Everyone can dance!