Inspirational Jean Veloz dances like a teenager at 87

Jean Veloz dancing

Jean Veloz as a young dancer

Back to my theme of older dancers who inspire us with their perpetual youth (I know they’re not the norm, but they sure are fun to read about!) I have to talk about one of my personal favorites, Jean Veloz.  Jean was a popular example of the smooth lindy style popularized by dancers like Dean Collins in the 1940s.  In addition to her flawless style, she was also flat out adorable.  Today, she’s just as energetic and unbelievably cute as she was 70 years ago.  Few people get to age like this, but at least we know it’s possible.  Here she is in the 1944 movie Swing Fever, the epitome of girl next door wholesomeness.  Every soldier’s dream girl, she symbolized what we were fighting for.  She’s dancing with two guys, and you can see another example of stealing, as describes in my October 18 post Stealing in Partner Dance.   In this choreography they do some stealing and sometimes they politely hand her to one another instead of stealing her away.

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Last year (2012) she was honored at the Herrang Dance Camp in Sweden.  You can see her familiar style still going strong as she dances with Marcus Koch, who can’t resist flirting with her as they dance.  This is not a choreographed routine like the one in the movie.  They’re just social dancing on a stage.  She’s 88 in this clip:

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Yep, wouldn’t you like to dance like that at 88?  It helps if you never stop, and add to that the right genes and lack of serious injury and you just might get to keep on going like Jean Veloz.  Good luck to you all!

by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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Inspirational Dancer Awes Us at 61!


Innovative dancer Maya Plisetskaya

The Great Dancer at age 86

Maya Plisetskaya is one of the most gifted dancers of all time, so if you had to pick one to beat the odds on longevity, you’d be hard pressed to find a better candidate.    She has had a huge influence on ballet with her unique style, charisma, and dramatic as well as technical genius.  The clip that inspired this post is of a performance at age 61.  Actually, the great dancer is a lot older than that now (88), but what’s really amazing about this clip is that she was performing ballet.  Ballet is the only dance form that trains the body to do that which is unnatural to it and for this reason classical dancers nearly always retire when they are in their thirties.  Dancing like this at 61 is like playing professional football at that age.  It’s not unusual to see tap dancers still hoofing it in their 80s, but ballet?  Teaching, creating choreography, running a ballet company, definitely, but a professional soloist with a world class company?  Unheard of!  And as you can see, at 61 you can’t tell she isn’t still a young dancer in her prime.  She actually retired as a soloist for the Bolshoi at the age of 65, but I couldn’t find any examples of her dancing at that age.  Anyone have a more recent clip than this one?  My thanks yet again to Rebecca Shannon for turning me on to this wonderful video:

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by LaurieAnn Lepoff

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