Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

January 7, 2013

Senior 'Happy Feet' Tap Dance starting at Fair Park

By Tina Taylor
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Tap dancing is a form of music all by itself as the sound of one’s tap shoes hit the floor as a percussive instrument. It started in the mid-1800s from Buck, Wing and Irish step dancing. This type of dancing was very popular and grew and developed in Minstrel, and later Vaudeville shows.

When you hear the words "tap dance," your mind may go to old films with the names and amazing feet of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Sammy Davis Jr. Most recently grabbing attention was the animated film Happy Feet, with thousands of happy penguins dancing in one accord on icebergs. Tap dance which combines lively music and dance is always entertaining.

It has been proven to live a long life that staying active is the key. Everyone is looking for their own thing and their own way of being active and having fun doing it. More Baby Boomers are enjoying dancing, which is great exercise, just what the doctors are ordering.

Fair Park will be starting a tap dance class this Friday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. with volunteer/instructor Billie Faye Brannon, who is really excited about starting this for the center. She will be introducing Senior's "Happy Feet" Tap/Exercise.

"I am not a professional, but enjoy all kinds of dancing, helping others have fun, and keep moving to the beat!" she said.

You can learn something new while moving to music that will improve mobility, balance and challenge your thought processes. Brannon will be teaching basic tap steps and combinations you can tap dance to any kind of music. Tap shoes are not required, just a comfortable leather sole (high heels are not recommended).

Brannon and her husband, George, retired and moved to Crossville from Indiana in 2001 and love living in the Lake Tansi area. She has always loved dancing and took ballet and tap as a youngster. Ballroom dancing was taught by her father as a teen and young adult. A career in the transportation industry and raising a family stopped the dancing for many years until at age 63 she joined the adult tap program at the Cumberland County Playhouse. It soon became her passion, both as a volunteer and as a participant in the dance program for seven years, which has included performances on stage.

At 71, she is not ready for the rocking chair on the porch and would like to continue to be active until 100. Brannon wants to help keep the senior community active as well for as long as possible.

There are many active activities waiting for you this year at Fair Park Senior Center. The center is at 1433 Livingston Rd. and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. For more information, call 484-7416 or check out the website at