In 1988, a group of women approached Mana Lesman Seward to join her dance group, Ultimate Touch.

Simple enough request. Only these dancers were senior citizens, and Ultimate Touch was a group of teenagers.

"I said, 'I don't think so,' " Seward said. "Then I offered to do some choreography for them."

And the Golden Dancers were born.

Now, nearly 20 years later, the group is still going strong with eight members who love the limelight and the exercise that the dance group provides. The only caveat in joining this group is you must be 55 or older.

During an after-school program recently at McKinley Elementary, the senior dancers donned flapper dresses that most had made themselves and taught the Charleston and other dances to about 30 youngsters. It was a great opportunity for young folks to see that life doesn't stop at 50, one dancer pointed out.

"One little girl said her grandmother used to dance. I asked, 'Doesn't she dance anymore?' And the girl looked at me and said, 'Oh, no. She's 61.'

"I thought, 'If she only knew how old I am,' " said Mata Wagner, who is 75.

The group performs dances from the 1920s, '30s and '40s and some Broadway numbers. The dancers are working on routines to "A Chorus Line" and "All That Jazz," "if we can just get fast enough," one dancer quipped.

Ginger Green has been dancing with the Golden Dancers since the late 1980s, the longest of any current member of the group.

"I just love it," she said.

The Golden Dancers group is open to men, but none is in the group right now. Practice sessions are held each week on Mondays from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Casa Village recreation room. The Golden Dancers also perform at community events.

The McKinley Elementary program was part of a Just Say No Program where the Riverside Optimist Club presents positive after-school activities for grade-school students at Newman, Washington, and McKinley elementaries.

"We dance whenever there is an opportunity," said Seward, who is also a visual artist.

Those who are interested in joining the group may call Seward at 252-5780.

Contact Jaci Webb at jwebb@billingsgazette.com or 657-1359.

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