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Tessie Tenczar, a resident of Windham Terrace, showed off her moves during a dance class at Windham Senior Center Thursday morning. For the past month or so, the weekly line dancing classes have been well-attended not only by members of the local senior center, but also by some of their new friends from the nearby assisted living community. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

Seniors dance to turn back the hands of time

WINDHAM -- You could say Gladys Truhlar has managed to dance through a good part of her long life.

"Oh, I've been doing it since I could stand on my daddy's shoes," Truhlar said with a grin. "It's just something I love doing."

Truhlar now calls the Windham Terrace Assisted Living community her home, where dancing hasn't been big part of her weekly routine. Well, not until recently anyway.

For the past month or so Truhlar and a handful of other Windham Terrace residents have been getting to know their neighbors at the Windham Senior Center thanks to a recent collaboration among the center, Windham Terrace and the Windham Recreation Department.

With all three entities in close proximity to each other, expanding the Recreation Department's popular country-western line-dancing program to include some new students from the assisted-living community has proven enjoyable for all participants.

Windham Recreation Director Cheryl Haas said the partnership arose during a recent conversation with Barbara Coish, senior center director, and Alicia Sell, Windham Terrace activities director.

"I'm absolutely thrilled with how it's all turned out so far," Haas said. "My heart warms a little when I see the (Windham Terrace) bus pull up each week."

"Some new friendships are being made already," she added.

Sell said about five Windham Terrace residents have been weekly regulars at the Thursday dance class, though others have expressed interest in giving it a try in the future.

According to Coish, the weekly dance classes have been held at the senior center for about five years, though until recently the classes consisted mostly of senior center members.

But last month when a couple of Windham Terrace residents stopped by to check out one of the classes, they were quickly hooked.

"So we're starting them out with some of the easier dances," Coish said. "But we'll be working our way up to some of the more difficult moves."

After instructor Gail Eaton tapped the screen of her iPad, the sun-filled function room at the Windham Senior Center soon burst with the sounds of Dean Martin's "Old Bones" as Eaton led her students in a simple two-step.

Lil Peabody, a regular at the senior center, had just sat down to rest but the song brought her back to her feet.

"This is a good one," she said. "I think I've rested enough."

Windham Terrace resident Tessie Tenczar promptly joined her, swaying her hips to the music's beat.

"Well, I'm just warming up," Tenczar informed her new friend. "This just makes you want to shake."

Windham Terrace Executive Director Lynda Brislin said she hopes more friendships will blossom as seniors from both communities just keep on dancing.

"It's not only fun for them," Brislin said. "It brings back many fond memories."

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