by Jonathan Scott

When Denise Coleman took the stage at the John D. Fuller, Sr. Recreation Complex in Fayetteville and began to sway to the rhythm of Wilson Picket’s “In the Midnight Hour,” she did it with the hip-shaking sass and self-confidence of a woman forty years her junior. That’s because she’s earned her self-confidence from a lifetime of dancing for pleasure.

Coleman was taking part in the 2019 Silver Arts Showcase, a part of the NC Senior Games, which is a program sponsored by the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services. Many of us who may have heard of the Senior Games might not know that, in addition to their 27 different sports competitions, the Games also include the Silver Striders walking program and the Silver Arts, a competition with categories for performing arts, cheerleading, visual and literary arts, and crafts.

Denise Coleman has lived in Spring Lake, NC since 2004. As she gradually retired, she started attending classes at the Spring Lake Senior Enrichment Center. There she learned to draw, play pickleball, and make jewelry. It just so happened that the Center’s long-time Director, Doris Snider, was the region’s Silver Arts Coordinator for the Talent Showcase, an annual event put on by the Mid-Carolina Area Agency on Aging. The Showcase brings folks from Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson Counties together to compete and enjoy each other’s special performance skills. 

Snider discovered that when Coleman went to Cross Creek Mall, she would often dance outside a store where she heard music playing. “I can get all the exercise I want,” Coleman told her. “It’s free and a great way of making friends.” So Snider encouraged Coleman to take to the stage and strut her stuff.

Sharing the event with Coleman were two excellent solo singers, an intense and gifted poet, two lively dance groups, a stand-up comedian, and a rousing choral group that seemed to inspire the audience as profoundly as a zealous preacher.

Seven judges were on hand to score each performance. The top scorer from the day was awarded the Gold Medal and will represent the three-county area in Raleigh at the State Finals Silver Arts Follies.

Even though Coleman won a first-place prize for her solo act, the pure joy of dancing was the most fulfilling reward. “As we get older, we need to remember when we were kids,” she says. 

“Think back to when you were told, ‘Go outside and do something!’ That’s the best advice now, too.”

Coleman, 65, shakes her hips like a 25-year old. “I keep repeating that old saying,” she says with a laugh. “Move it or lose it.”

If you live in either Cumberland, Harnett, or Sampson County and would like to participate in the NC Senior Games for 2020, contact Tracey Honeycutt, Aging Director for the Mid-Carolina Area Agency on Aging at (910) 323-4191, ext. 27, or email her at thoneycutt@mccog.org. In addition to sports and performance arts participants, judges and event sponsors are always needed—as well as folks to just come to the events and support with their appreciation and applause.