Magazine article Dance Magazine

Never Too Old for a Kick Line

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Never Too Old for a Kick Line

Article excerpt

The opening number of Rift Markowitz's Palm Springs Follies, the hugely successful burlesque dance review now in its 14th season at the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, CA, includes a frank disclosure--the ages of every member of the cast. The older the dancer, the louder the applause. In a reversal of the youth mania of the professional dance world, this show celebrates performers with decades of history on the stage. These performers, aged 57 to 87, power their fit and beautifully contoured bodies through seven to nine shows a week of kick lines, pinwheels, flash tap numbers, and grand Las Vegas showgirl costume displays.

Markowitz, the dapper 66-year-old impresario and cofounder of the Follies who introduces the show, calls this desert mecca for retirees "God's waiting room." He acknowledges the Follies as an idealized mirror of the aging body for the busloads of white-haired audience members. He warms up the crowd with jokes about Viagra, failing memories, and stiffening bodies. It was Markowitz who decided the show should open with a kick line showcasing the flawless legs of the 11 women in the group and the partnering of the six men who promenade and escort, rather than lift the women.

Joan Palethorpe, 62, who trained at The Royal Ballet School in London and now choreographs for the Follies, lauds them as an ensemble of tap, show, and burlesque dancers. They include Trina Parks, 58, a former dancer with Katherine Dunham, who says never say no" to a movement challenge. "The most important thing is to try and find steps that look tremendously energetic but don't hurt the body," Palethorpe explained in a phone interview. …

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