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Local Grandmas Tap Dance Their Way into the Spotlight

Apr 08, 2016 09:12AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com

South Valley - Kay Smith spent so much time taking care of her mother that after her mother passed away, she didn’t know what to do.

“I spent some time sulking and being lonely, but what finally got me out of my rut was this group,” Smith said, referring to the “Time” Steppers, a tap dancing troupe for senior citizens. “It got me moving and socializing again.” 

The troupe consists of 13 members between the ages of 56 and 80, Karen Catten, founder and instructor, said. They practice three times a week for 90 minutes and perform four to five times a month and know over 80 dances, all choreographed by Catten. 

Catten said she encourages seniors to dance because it “thwarts off Alzheimer’s,” because the movement and social interaction stimulates memory. That’s one reason Catten, 74, started dancing at age 55. 

Catten’s love of tap dancing came from performing with the Dancing Grannies of Bountiful and the Entertainers in Ogden, both senior tap dancing groups. Catten moved, and in 2009 she decided to start a group of her own that would be closer to home, and that’s when the “Time” Steppers was born.

Smith tap danced in her childhood, teen and early adult years, but said it had been more than 30 years since she last danced when she joined the Steppers in 2012. She was shocked that the steps came back so quickly. 

However, not all of the members of the performing troupe have danced before, Catten said. 

“I hadn’t tap danced before, but I heard about it and I had some tap shoes that I’d never used, so I came and loved it,” Janis Mabey said. 

Catten and the rest of the “Time” Steppers are hosting a free senior tap dancing clinic on April 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Riverton Senior Center to give seniors of all levels the opportunity to try tap dancing. 

“All you have to have is a desire to learn,” Mabey said. “If you can walk, Karen can get you dancing.” 

Catten instructs weekly beginning and intermediate tap classes to seniors who funnel into the “Time” Steppers. Catten said she’d like to see some men advance to the “Time” Steppers. In the group’s seven-year history, not a single man has joined the troupe.

The group’s name is a double play on words. “Time” is in quotation marks because there’s an elementary step in tap called the “time step,” Smith said. 

“It’s also a play on words because, with our age, it is like we are stepping over time by staying active,” she said. 

The “Time” Steppers’ most common places for performances are at senior centers, senior living residences, schools, reunions, churches, private parties and community celebrations.

Each performance is based on a theme, usually a holiday theme, including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mothers’ Day, Halloween and Christmas. The group also performs a Rock ‘n’ Roll 50s show, Broadway show and a patriotic show. 

The “Time” Steppers dress up in full costume for their performances, and change into a new outfit for each song. The members of the troupe make their own matching costumes.

To find out more information about the tap dance clinic or to see or book the “Time” Steppers, call or email Catten at 801-652-5975 or kcisat@yahoo.com.    

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