Student Spotlight: Sexy at Sixty

"...getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air." (Sarah Kay, "If I should have a daughter") One of our most advanced students, Maxine, grew up in the Pittsburgh region as the daughter of a Jewish funeral director.  She is a strong cancer survivor, a wonderful silver-level dancer, a dog breeder of champion-level Schnauzers, a former massage therapist, and an interesting, personable woman. Us: What makes you feel sexy? Maxine: Walking into a room and turning heads. A bikini.  When men offer to lift heavy objects for you. But dance isn't   about what makes me feel sexy. I'm competitive, and I want to be the best.  I'm my own worst judge.  Dance is art to me. Us: What makes you feel strong? Maxine: I was strong enough to get away from a failed marriage, to leave an alcoholic environment.  I don't like to be told "no," or what to do.  I love to learn and my independence gives me the strength to pursue what interests me. Us: What makes you feel weak? Maxine: Weak is not in my etymology.  It's not a word I use.  But I don't like to be out of my element; it makes me extremely shy and more uncomfortable than anything. Us: How did you find your strength? Maxine: I got cancer. My boyfriend had left a year before so I fought the disease by myself.  I rode a bike to chemo, I       showed my dogs while I was on chemo.  I had no choice. But, I knew I was depressed. I sat down and laid on the kitchen floor and cried.  I called the doctor. I was down to 98 pounds. He got my prescription. I only allow people to help me when I really need it. I had another hit a while later. I love to be outside and I especially love to drive exotic vehicles.  I had a tricked out BMW I loved. But in the early 90s I had cataracts and lost my sight.  It was just another obstacle to overcome.  I found my strength because of my parents; my father had Parkinson's and my mother died in my arms.  You have to be strong. Cancer took away my anger.  I wouldn't waste time with it. Maxine's attractiveness, that magnetic quality that draws others to her, is because of her strength. She chose to continue every time she was knocked down.  She got up, ignoring the possibility of not being able to hoist herself, and persevered. She is a woman who has done a little bit of everything, daring things that might scare the less venturesome. She started taking lessons before every chemo therapy session. Now she is cancer free, a silver level dancer, and a mainstay at the studio. We all look forward to Maxine's dance lessons.