82-year-old Kilgore woman shares her passion for dance by teaching classes at Longview Leisure Center | Local News

At 82, Shirley Rae Sawyer has been dancing since the day she was born. Today, she shares her passion with the community by teaching a new line dance class for beginners at the Green Street Recreation Center.

“It’s a good outlet. I encourage everyone, if they like to dance, to line dance, Sawyer said. “It’s pretty easy. You are not frustrated and you are having fun.

Sawyer, from Kilgore, is keeping things fun for his new class by teaching participants to do popular new line dances like the ‘Macarena’ and ‘Cupid Shuffle’ in addition to traditional favourites. The course, which began in June, is offered at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the center.

Although this class is new to Green Street, Sawyer’s affiliation with the Longview Recreation Center is not.

Sawyer, who grew up in Marshall and has been dancing all her life, started line dancing at the rec center in the summer of 1992, when she was 54. At the time, members had to be 55 to join, but younger participants could still participate. in classrooms by paying $1 for each visit. When Sawyer turned 55, she officially became a member of the rec center.

The instructors at the time, Pat Maddox and Eldon Boswell, were teaching dance classes at the time using 45 records and tapes. In 1993, a dance team formed out of the center as the Green Street Swingers. Sawyer joined the band, which performed at nursing homes, churches, festivals, fairs, and other events.

When Boswell retired in 1995, Sawyer began helping teach classes, and in 1996 she became an employee of the recreation center. While transferred to work at the Paula Martin Jones Recreation Center in 2000, Sawyer continued to teach dance lessons and be involved in Green Street.

During his years at the head of the class, Sawyer would travel to other parts of Texas and bring back dances to share with the Longview group.

“We didn’t have YouTube back then,” she said. “I was going to South Texas, San Antonio and Mission, and bringing back dances. That’s what I would do. I would just bring them back. I counted it once after I retired and we did 96 different dances.

In addition to line dancing, Sawyer has also clogged before. She started in 1989 and clogged for many years, including being part of a local clogging group. Today, neuropathy in her feet prevents her from clogging up, which she described as “strenuous exercise”.

Today, line dancing continues to suit her. She also enjoys quilting and painting. She has an art and dance hall that her husband built for her and she enjoys spending time there.

While she’s retired from working with the city, Sawyer enjoys teaching the new line dancing class for beginners. The class usually has 12 to 14 participants, and there is room for it to grow. When it started in June, there were seven members, Sawyer said.

In the beginner class, Sawyer explained, she is able to repeat the steps until the participants understand them.

“You teach the steps two or three times,” she said.

As participants learn the moves, they are able to put them together into a dance.

Although line dancing is fun, it also has health benefits as it encourages seniors to stay active through light exercise.

“If I wasn’t doing that, I’d be sitting around doing something and I like to move,” she said.

She said she would encourage others to consider joining the Green Street Recreation Center for the many activities it offers for seniors. In addition to line dancing, the Green Street Recreation Center also offers bingo, exercise classes, game days, and other educational activities.

Green Street is one of three recreation centers overseen by the City of Longview Parks and Recreation Department. However, the Green Street Leisure Center is not only open to residents of Longview. It is available to anyone 35 and older in Longview and the greater East Texas community. Membership costs $15 per year.

The Green Street Recreation Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 814 S. Green St. in Longview.

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