Elita's Corner

My name is Elita S. Clayman. I wrote the senior page column for Amateur Dancers magazine for seventeen years. Now I am writing two individual columns for two websites. Rene Zgraggen, the publisher of this site has given me complete freedom

of expression and I take full responsibility for the thoughts and subjects on my page in Elita's Corner.This website is read by thousands of dancers and possibly non dancers every week. 

I am proud to be associated with Rene who is a fine publisher, a wonderful dance coach and a thoughtful human being to all that have the privilege of knowing him in person. 

His website is full of useful dance information and certainly benefits the dancers in all areas. 

Please feel free to contact me with your thoughts and comments and ideas on ballroom dance as it applies to our daily lives and how it enhances our living. I have been dancing and taking dance lessons for thirty years and it certainly has been a splendid hobby exercise wise and dancing stimulates and encourages our minds to go forth and to enjoy life. I recommend ballroom dancing to all seniors and non seniors as your life will be embellished and beautified. 

 
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In ninety percent of the articles I write, I talk about the benefits of ballroom dancing to everyone and especially to seniors. Here is a heartwarming and true story of what it has done for a little boy in New Jersey. His name is Aiden Marin and his mom took him for ballroom dance lessons in the studio, where she is a student also. He has Autism and she is stunned at how far he has attained competence and the benefits her son has received from learning to dance. She says "the benefits to Aiden have been multi-dimensional, inspiring, reflecting physical, social, emotional and cognitive growth."

As most Autistic children have trouble with recreational activities such as sports, in dancing, he has had no trouble with ballroom dancing. It has given him the opportunity to blossom, communicating better and he even asks other dancers to dance with him.

They learn to have confidence in themselves and they learn to let go of their fears and anxieties. Autism causes them to have good contact with their partner, maintain good posture and social habits become easier for them. It also gives them, as to all of us dancers, good self-esteem. She says in her writings called Aiden’s Waltz that "from a boy who did nothing but watch as other children played soccer, he rose from the shackles of Autism to dance with the grace and elegance of a swan across the ballroom dance floor."

When we were at a dance competition in 1983 in Miami Beach, Florida, there was a boy suffering from a spastic disease. He shook a lot and walked slowly. His mom had him enrolled in a dance school and the lovely and wonderful female teacher taught him to dance and to hold his head high and his posture was lovely. He did several exhibition dances with her and he won trophies. Everyone was elated at his progress and the joy on his face and in his eyes was something to behold. It was like a rainbow of beauty and it brought many a tear to the viewers’ eyes. Afterward, when finished dancing, he still had his spastic problems, but he was like a different person, because he had excelled in something so great that it let him overcome for short periods of time, his terrible illness.

I do not remember his name, but I remember him shaking my hand when I complimented him on his gracious and outstanding dancing. His hand shook when he took my hand, but it was a marvelous feeling for me as an adult of forty-nine years to behold such beauty, love and accomplishment on his part. Also, his lovely teacher was commended for what she instilled in him; that he could do it and he would succeed and most of all, he would be triumphant.

Aiden and this young man I knew are outstanding examples of what mankind and boy kind (just made up that word) can actualize, regardless of their disabilities.

Aiden’s mom Victoria says that "classical music notes now that music facilitates self-expression, creativity and sociability in children. It reduces stress, and the heart rate slows which causes the mind to be receptive to learning, self-esteem and it leads to improvement in the creative thinking process."

I have always said in my many former articles on ballroom dancing, that it gave me peace, higher ego feelings, confidence and love. It assured me, that I was a special person learning a specified work of physical activity and accomplishment.

This is why I ‘preach’ so much about it in my various articles and shout to the readers, that it is never too late to try to learn ballroom dance.

Look what it has done for Aiden and my young friend in Florida from 1983 and I do pray that Aiden sticks with it, finds even more joy with it, prospers and we know that this could lead to a more productive life for him from all that he has learned from ballroom dancing. When he walks into the room with his shoulders and head held high, he indeed deserves to feel as delightful and fulfilled as he already is and as time progresses, he will feel even more happiness which he certainly deserves.

He is the prime example of the beneficial rewards of dance. He is more than a swan, he is a beautiful human, who has spread his wings and a really talented, good person and may the soles of his feet bring him the rewards for his beautiful soul.

This is Aiden’s Waltz as his mother calls her writings; if I may add an addendum to that, I would say it is Aiden’s Accomplishments, Attainments and Actualities. Aiden is a Four Star ‘A’ young man and I am proud to know about him from mom’s writings. I will no longer complain about my aching knees, because I just got to know Aiden through the Internet.

Aiden is a Star who is soaring high in his life and that ballroom dancing is helping him, makes him high unto the sky and he shines so brightly, we can all see it.

Elita Sohmer Clayman
July 2012

You can email me at elitajerrydancing@verizon.net . 

 

Since Elita has ceased her association with Amateur Dancers Magazine (now American Dancer), a great many of her long-time readers and fans have expressed their disappointment at no longer finding her column in the magazine. Many others have expressed their gratitude at having been able to enjoy her inspirational writing for so many years.

Below is what Art Williams, a senior dancer from Mississippi, had to say, and many people share his thoughts. However, he is wrong in one respect when he says her column is 'no more'. For more than two years now, Elita has written for my website and has had her articles published in her corner right here. I hope she will continue to do so for many years to come

Rene Zgraggen


AN ODE TO ELITA

I did not see her column in the last couple of issues of Amateur Dancer so I started Emailing around and found that for some reason or another, her column devoted to seniors for some 17 years now, is no more. What a shame! She single-handedly did more for Senior dancing that anyone I know of, but then again, there is a lot I don’t know.

I started dancing, socially, at the age of 47 and competitively at age 50. I am now 78 and still dancing competitively, mainly due to the efforts of people like Elita; Ann Smith; Ann Durocher to name a few. My wife is 71 and started dancing socially when she was 57, competing with me at age 62. Elita knew, and wrote about the fact that we Seniors also love to dance and need encouragement just like the High School and College kids and working Adults, with one exception, many Seniors have the money to further their desires, whereas the younger age groups are a little strapped due to their “growing up” needs and priorities.

Elita’s monthly pieces in Amateur Dancer were treasured by most of us Seniors as she was more or less our “spokesperson” be it in the areas of dress, demeanor, practicing, social versus competitive motivations, etc, she touched them all within the span of several articles during a given year. She imparted her love of dancing to all of us in such a way that we could often relate her words to our particular situations.

Seniors need a spokesperson as our needs are perhaps a bit more unique than other age groups. Most of us are retired and use dancing as a combination of physical and mental exercise as well as a motivating factor in how we can further socialize not on with our peers, but dancers of all age groups. As a long time competitive dancer, I have long noted that most of the folks helping to put on competitions are usually Seniors, likewise, when we attend social dances, once again most of the folks helping to run the event are Seniors. Why, we have the time, just about all of the Adult aged dancers are either working or in school, hence pretty well occupied when it comes to free time. Here again, Elita has contributed quite a bit by urging those of us who have time to get involved with organizing and operating both social and competitive events. We are all well aware of the fact that Pro Am events run by Pros are much more costly than events sponsored and run by Amateurs as they must be because these events are one of the sources of the average Pros income. Again, Elita had highlighted in her pieces ways in which we seniors can be helpful at these events to help keep the costs down thereby allowing more people to participate from an affordability standpoint.

The aforementioned are just a few of the services that Elita helped provide with antidotal examples that she wrote about in her monthly column.

I already miss her pieces in the “New Amateur Dancer” magazine. They were both informative and inspirational and now they are missed. Well done, Elita!

Art Williams
Diamondhead, MS
 

Special Supplement


The Velvet Fog And Do Something Nice For Someone For Valentine’s Day and Everyday

Elita Sohmer Clayman

When I was 16, I was on the newspaper staff of the high-school paper. I liked a singer named Mel Torme, and he came to town. I went downtown to the Hippodrome Theatre where he was appearing. My mom and I went on the street car (no buses yet in those days), and I obtained a fine meeting with him right before the show was to begin.

He was very pleasant and agreeable to answering my high-school interview questions and gave me an autographed photo of himself. I was so excited to meet a celebrity and especially, since he was kind to a teenager. I often bought his records then and played them on the kind of record players in the 1950s available to us then.

Many years later, Mel was not only known for his singing voice, which was quite different in those days than now, but he collected guns for a hobby. They called him the Velvet Fog.

My husband collected antique guns in later life for fun and for investments, and Mel Torme was known to have a vast collection of lots of guns. One was put on auction and my husband tried to buy, but it went for a large sum of money. I felt like if he had, I would have had a dear piece of something owned by someone famous, I knew as an excited sixteen year old kid.

All the kids at school were impressed that I had gotten an interview with him. So was I! He always remained my favorite male singer, and when he died recently, I felt I had lost a friend from the past. He was considerate and dear to a 16-year-old teen whose day he certainly made that winter of 1950.

He was so different than when Mom and I were in New York visiting her friend when I was about the same age as meeting Mel Torme. We were walking on the street, when I noticed the famous actor Henry Fonda. He was appearing in a play in New York City and I walked up to him and said Hi. He did not answer me and walked on. I guess he was scared of a tiny teenager who only said hello and never got a chance to even ask for his autograph. I met Joey Bishop one day in the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel so many years later and he was friendly to me and my kids and we also met Don Ameche who had just appeared in a popular movie and he too, was very nice. The movie was called Cocoon.

Some entertainment people fail to realize that their fans are what keeps them alive in the industry and to acknowledge someone who is admiring them and not even asking for an autograph is all part of being who they are- famous, well paid and noticeable figures. There is a quote that says "success comes before work in the dictionary." Actually, work comes before success and many a hard working male or female who enters the entertainment world has to toil many years before they become "an overnight success." They all go through that and to be recognized by your fans even on a street is to have gained success through your hard work. To ignore your public is not in your best interest. Do you know, I never watched any of Henry Fonda’s movies for many years? I could still feel his snub to a sixteen year old kid. Mel Torme remained a fond memory and I bought all of his song records (in those days, they were called 45’s because of their small size.) Mel was not a real tall guy, he was six feet tall in my memory and heart and Henry Fonda who was a tall guy in stature always remained a tiny person to me.

There are people you meet, sometimes for a minute or two and you never forget them. There are folks you know for twenty years and it does not mean a thing to you. I have met in the last few years several people who have touched my life and I am grateful for that. One is an assistant manager of a jewelry store I frequent. It is her dynamic laugh and wide smile, her thoughtful ways, her extreme courtesy and most of all her decency in life and business that drew me to her when I was making a purchase several years ago. She steered us to a restaurant for light meals and we had fun going there. Recently, in the last six months, I have made her acquaintance again through holiday Chanukah/Christmas and now Valentine purchases and I just enjoy stopping by and chatting. Sometimes, I purchase an item that I know she tells me the truth about its quality and I depend on her judgment; since jewelry can be what we can call a ‘blind article." It is hard to compare one bracelet to another one or one ring with the same stone to another. It is difficult to decide to make a purchase of something costly and I can trust her to be honest with me.

She goes out of her way to do what I ask and get what I want and that is nice in this day and age. We now email each other and it is fun to hear from her. She is thirty-eight and I am seventy-seven and her mom is gone since she was a small child due to illness.

I kid her that I will adopt her and she cares about us as people, not just a client/customer. She cried when I told her I would ‘adopt’ her and I even gave her an alternate Hebrew name corresponding to her English name. I called her Dorona which is equivalent to Diana in Hebrew. It means gift. Gift, she is to me and my husband, just knowing her and her vibrant laugh and her sincere smile that is a gift. For Valentine’s Day coming up on Tuesday February 14th, I gave her a gold triple heart pendant and she put it on her gold chain. She wrote me: "I just want to thank you for the beautiful heart pendant you gave me. It means so much to me. I will cherish it always. It is by far the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me. The fact that you gave me something that was once yours, means even more to me. I am not great with words, but I am always honest with my feelings. Sitting at home now, your thoughtfulness makes me cry. It is nice to see that there are still good, genuine people in this world. You did something that you did not need to do, but still did, which just means so much. Thank you a million times over. Love from Dorona."

So always remember as little Ethan said and I mentioned it in a former article. He said "be happy to each other." That line was from a little boy about five at that time. So we can all be happy to each other, we need not give trinkets, charms, other gift or even cards. We can just be nice to people, appreciative and showing a smile and even complimenting them on something and that will be a fine Valentine present. It is one that will cost you no money; it will be rewarding to see their smile and to know you contributed to their having a fine day. Success comes before work on a dictionary page, but kindness and empathy are all on the same page of that particular dictionary. There is another saying that says "things do not define who you are, you define who you are". So true, so meaningful and so wonderful to define yourself without material things, but with glorious moments and happenings.

Her name is Diana Ragonese Mitchell. She works as an assistant manager in Littman Jewelers in Towsontown Mall. She and I are friends forever. She is the younger and I am the elder, age means nothing except that we care about each other. Acceptance comes before caring in the dictionary, they both mean completeness and love. We each have our own immediate families; she and I join together in mental and social family connections. That is what life is all about and every meaning in the dictionary that is good can apply to all of us in our bonding and relationships. Try it for Valentine’s Day and see if you can bond, relate and care about someone new to you.

 

Previous articles

Unbelievable
Age artists, do it now
A Single Light
Walking on the Stars
Restringing the necklace

The Inward Flame That Is Never Turned Off
Have a tall attitude
Our Dancing Universe
The Day After
Pure Hope
There is nothing you cannot do
Invest in dancing, invest in yourself

The good samaritan
From the book of Psalms
Whole New World Will Open Up To Your Heart, Soul And Mind
Be happy to each other
Lace By
Unbound Courage
Saying Jewels
Strength and tomorrow

Conservators and Hugs
We love two people
Is it an Obstacle or an Adventure?
Power over Time

Let's Do It
The Survey

Spreading her Wings
Names and Meanings
Aging Gracefully

Confidence's Role in Dancing
Life in a Jar
Count Ballroom Dancint as a Blessings Too
Poetry of the Foot and a Lyric to our
Soul
Weeping and Rejoicing
No Inferiority, just Superiority
Angles, Angels and Dance  
Our Soul
Go Grammie Go

Nistar Hidden Miracle
The Lost Shoe
So What?Nothing Can Deter Us
Ginger and Fred and Football
Galore
Ethan and the E People
Fear Itself
The Day After
The Gift of Promise

Not to Dance
An Obligation

The Lamp that is not turned off

Love is not Love
George Joseph - Journey to a
Child’s Heart

Dancing is like a box of Chocolates
Appearances are DeceivingJoy, Hope and Faith
Written on my heart
Brass to Gold to Platinum
Halos and Radiance
Your Dancing Universe

A Man of Valor - Ron Montez
The Cherished versus the other one

A day not lost
The Gift to Yourself
Dancing for the Meat Bones

Leah and Mr. Trimble
Uplift Yourself and Go Forth
The Mary Janes, Then and Now
Sarah and Jenny or Jenny and Sarah
The Blue Suede Shoes and A Woman of Valor
 
We will not part from you
My three grandsons
Nancy, my guardian angel
A price above rubies
Hope
       

 

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