Entertainment » Highlights » Vol. 65

Go on a magic carpet ride with the Silver Moon Gypsies

Even baby boomers, who are rewriting the book on aging and retirement, might admit that in today’s increasingly turbo-charged, fast-paced, tech-savvy world, time really does fly by. It can feel like the world is spinning faster and the days are passing by in a soft blur. So even the most hearty and robust seniors occasionally need something unique that will paint a smile on their faces. There is the need in people across all generations to sometimes rest their overworked minds, sit back, relax and partake of something that can take them away from life for a little while. Something that might even make their heart skip a beat.

In 1966, The Hollies, a popular “British Invasion” band that Graham Nash formed and fronted before he became a member of the legendary Crosby, Stills and Nash, released the catchy chart-topping hit song, “Stop, Stop, Stop;” Nash’s ode to belly dancing. Nash’s lyrics forever captured the joy of the dance.

“See the girl with cymbals on her fingers
Entering through the door
Ruby glistening from her navel
Shimmering around the floor
Now she’s dancing, going through the movements
Swaying to and fro
Like a snake her body fascinates me
I can’t look away now”

One doesn’t need to slip into an old song from the gilded age of rock music to enjoy the unique art of belly dancing. The experience can be had right here, courtesy of the Silver Moon Gypsies, a local belly dancing troupe. They were founded by lead dancer and Northborough resident, Gypsy Phillips, who, at 79, brings happiness, smiles and joy to those senior citizens who can’t get around as they once did. In addition to Phillips, the members of the troupe include 85-year-old Norma Guimentaro from Shrewsbury; Elaine Savoy, 74, from Sudbury; Alida Krumin, 80, of Southborough; and the “kid” in the mix, 64-year-old Anna Connors from Shrewsbury.

According to Connors, the ladies who comprise the Silver Moon Gypsies have been dancing together, as a troupe, for about 10 years. She explained, “Our group came about as an extension from our weekly dance classes at the Shrewsbury Senior Center. Each of us never did anything like this before, and we loved the freedom and the fun of dancing.”

Asked about what she and her fellow dancers get out of belly dancing at area public libraries, children’s fairs and senior venues, Connors provided a thoughtful perspective. “We get pure joy out of dancing for our audiences. We are so blessed for the wonderful response from residents at nursing homes, especially when we perform for individuals with dementia and special needs – that is the most rewarding.”

In the same spirit as that of Massachusetts former first lady Ann Romney, Connors battles multiple sclerosis with a vengeance. So the ex-marathon runner and exercise demon is indeed one who has walked the walk and can talk the talk in offering her thoughts on the challenges of being a senior belly dancer and what she gets out of the experience.

“For each one of us, we can all say that it’s getting older, but this is what keeps us young, vibrant and happy. I happen to have MS, so it’s a bit of a challenge. I always tell our audiences to never give up on what you love doing. Just adapt. Find a different way of doing things.” She added, “An example I give is the ladies can do two and three turns. I cannot. So just do one pretty turn! It all works, just don’t give up.”

For many people, belly dancing conjures up images of Middle Eastern scenes of sinking down into the silky intrigue of the Arabian Nights, where a beaded curtain is parted to reveal a desert princess moving fluidly around café tables. In my mind, it lifts the veil on scene that Hollywood created in the timeless classic film Casablanca. Late-night scenes that had Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar in Rick’s Café. They are indelibly etched in our collective memory. In the reality of the here and now, an often overlooked and positive by-product of belly dancing is that, in its way, it is an exercise that often helps to enrich the lives of women who engage in it. Performing its various routines can – and does – summon up emotions that help women to bond with each other through the process of moving in synchronicity.

In truth, the Silver Moon Gypsies are not of that stereotypical celluloid belly-dancing ilk. Rather, they are fun, festive and family-friendly. Belly dancing is a gift of joy that they love to share with their audiences. For a brief moment, their stage persona takes those who need to smile far away on a magic carpet ride.

For more information and a schedule, visit silvermoongypsies.weebly.com.

Paul Collins
Paul Collins is a freelance writer from Southborough.

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