Not everyone can do the high kicks, twists and ballroom dancing routines like they used to, but the seniors at the Alper Jewish Community Center in Kendall sure give it a whirl. Every Tuesday about 30 gather, some with caregivers, to move to the music.
“It’s like the high school prom all over again,” said regular class participant Maison Steinberg, 79, who said he was a dance instructor “for years.”
Jeanne Sands, 94, said she’s been involved in the class for the last nine to 10 months. She was once a ballerina on the London stage. “It’s good to dance,” Sands said.
Director of Adult Programming Ilene Primack likes to see the seniors moving. “This gets them out of their houses,” she said.
The students, many in their 90s, are led by their encouraging and energetic instructor, Rocio Ruiz Paris. She said she tries to make it very special for the seniors who participate. And even the ones who can only wave their arms or clap to the music are all smiles when Ruiz Paris helps them get involved.
“I never met my grandparents so this is like my family,” she said. One of her regular dancers is retired South Miami veterinarian Eli Gersten. He said he loves going to dance, and his wife, Gloria, sometimes goes to watch.
The Tuesday gathering usually starts at 10 a.m. with cards, games and snacks. Seated exercises start at 12:30 p.m. and the dancing begins at 1 p.m. Pedro Paulo Carvalho is a musician who often plays guitar and electric keyboard for the class. He sings in English and Spanish. And when he plays the calypso classic “Jump In The Line,” also known as “Shake Senora,” everyone is moving, a lot or a little.
“This is the most unique class I’ve ever been to in my life,” Gloria Gersten said of the entertainment. “I just want to share it.”
Dancing is one part of the program designed for seniors and classes are open to anyone who wants to join. For more information on how to get involved, or to help a loved one, contact Primack at email@example.com or call 305-271-9000 ext. 264. Classes are held at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC, 11155 SW 112 Ave.
For the fourth year in a row, Miamian Glenn Hernandez will collect toys to deliver on Christmas Eve to deserving children in South Florida who might not otherwise celebrate with presents.
Hernandez’s small local Secret Santa Project brings together old friends and new each year for this worthy cause. It started as a simple Craigslist post in 2009 and now with just one week to go before Christmas volunteers are needed to wrap gifts and help with deliveries.
“We find that this project really gives us new meaning for the holidays every single year,” Hernandez said in an email.
To find out more and to get involved with helping, when you’re done shopping, call or text Hernandez at 786-447-6476.
Bring friends and family out to a Winter Solstice Star Party, 5-9 p.m., Dec. 20, at the Southwest Pavilion, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, at the southern end of Key Biscayne. Hosted by the Southern Cross Astros, the night sky-watching event will focus high tech equipment on bright Jupiter and its four closest satellite moons, Orion the Hunter, the Andromeda Galaxy, star clusters and more. You can also enjoy the magnificent sunset view with boats and birds, and the Miami and Coconut Grove skylines across Biscayne Bay.
Bring your picnic, binoculars, telescopes, bug repellant, chairs and jackets. Park near the historic lighthouse and walk down to the observing area. The main park gate closes at 8 p.m. No lights, lasers, litter, alcohol, grills, or pets. For more call 305-661-1375 or visit www.scas.org.
The park can be reached at 305-361-8779. The causeway toll is $1.50. Tip: The party’s sunset special admission price, from 4:30-5:30 p.m., is $4 per car. Regular park admission before that time is $8 per car. In the event of rain the Star Party will be rescheduled to Dec. 27.
OPERA FOR ALL
Orchestra Miami will present the timeless holiday classic Amahl and the Night Visitors in English and Spanish at various locations around South Florida.
Also called Amahl y los Reyes Magos, by Gian Carlo Menotti, the beautiful opera tells the simple story of a young crippled boy, Amahl, and his mother, who welcome some unexpected visitors into their home — the Three Kings. The performance is perfect for the whole family and lasts about one hour.
The production stars 13-year-old Alexander Segarra as Amahl. Alexander is a seventh grader at the Ada Merrit K-8 Center and has been studying voice and piano at the Miami Conservatory since he was nine. The performances are conducted by Orchestra Miami’s Artistic Director Elaine Rinaldi, directed by Michael Yawney, and choreographed by Octavio Campos, with costume design by Angela Esposito.
The first show is at 8 p.m., Dec. 22, at the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church, 609 NE 96 St. The next one is at 2 p.m., Jan. 6, 2013, in English with Spanish supertitles, and at 4 p.m., in Spanish with English supertitles, at Teatro Trail, 3715 SW 8th St. in Coral Gables.
“I’m so happy to be able to start what we hope will be Miami’s newest holiday tradition,” said Rinaldi. “This piece is such a jewel, and it is a real pleasure to be able to give an opportunity to many of our incredibly talented local artists.”
Tickets for the Dec. 22 performance are priced from $20 to $30, with half-priced tickets available for children and students under 18. Tickets for this performance are available through Brown Paper Tickets or by calling 1-800-838-3006.
Tickets for the Jan. 6 performance are priced from $25-$40 and are available at www.teatrotrail.com or by calling 305-443-1009. For more about these performances and about Orchestra Miami, call 305-274-2103 or visit www.orchestramiami.org.