Gymnasts as dancers, part II


87 year old gymnast

Gymnastics as dance demonstrated by 87 year old Johanna Quaas

This is the second post about gymnasts as promised in last week’s post Are Gymnasts Dancers? This is also part of my series on inspirational dancers still wowing us in their senior years. The subject of today’s post is Johanna Quaas, an 87 year old gymnast. In last week’s post I established my belief that a gymnastic routine does qualify as dancing, hence the appropriateness of today’s subject.


Watching this video reminds me of Frankie Manning’s 85th birthday dance jam. I was the last partner he danced with in his jam and he popped an effortless aerial with me as an ending flourish. Of course he never would have been able to do that if he was still learning the move, but he didn’t learn it at 85. He learned it (invented it even) as a teenager and after a few decades of doing it, could at 85 do it with a minimum of effort.


Johanna Quaas entered her first contest in 1934 at the age of eleven and never stopped. She achieved internet fame when in 2012 she was listed in The Guinness Book of Records as oldest gymnast in the world. She married another gymnast, and went on to coach Olympic gymnasts.  Here she is, not just demonstrating that she is still an active gymnast, but that’s she’s still a really good one!

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While not all athletes remain healthy enough to continue their activity in their eighties, those that are did not suddenly decide to get in shape and learn a new skill at 80. They may have decided to learn a new skill in their golden years, as did yoga teacher  Tao Porchon-Lynch when she took up ballroom dance in her eighties, but she was already active and in great shape from a lifelong dedication to yoga.  Very helpful if you want to blow everyone’s mind in your aging years!


I don’t mean to discourage any elderly couch potato from starting an active lifestyle at any age. I do, however, mean to encourage everyone to find an activity you love at whatever age you are now, and make it a part of your life. All of my stories and videos of inspirational seniors have one thing in common besides dance. All of them deeply love the activity that keeps them young. None of them exercise because somebody told them it’s good for them. All of them inspire us not only with their longevity and skill, but with their passion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: find something you love doing and in the memorable words of Roger Miller’s immortal “You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd”: “Knuckle down, buckle down, Do it! Do it! Do it!”

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Are Gymnasts Dancers?

Ukrainian Dancers begin

Using Dance in Gymnastics elevates this routine

This is the first of 2 posts about dancing gymnasts.   In my opinion, dance skill has a lot to do with the success of a gymnastic routine.   As you know, I’m also very opinionated about dance and part of my criteria is that the dance is an expression of the music.  In this wonderful routine from the Ukrainian Olympic team, the women hit the music perfectly.  Like the reverse of dancers who use aerials with perfect timing, (see previous post Using Aerials in Swing Dance) these athletes use dance to accent their perfect lifts.  It’s all timed perfectly to the music and the routine is choreographed to take advantage of the breaks in the music.  As beautiful as it is impressive to watch, without using dance to play with the music, the gymnastic perfection would not have been nearly as effective in the overall performance.  Watch it now and see if you don’t agree!

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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