Gene LaPierre dances with a Rose Tree Place resident. (Photo courtesy of Rose Tree Place)

Once a month, the tapping of happy feet travels through the air at Watermark’s Rose Tree Place personal care and memory care community in Media, PA. With 40 to 50 residents at each monthly session, Gene LaPierre’s ballroom dance class has become a smash hit and a great way for residents to stay healthy.

“The ballroom dance class brings back a lot of good memories for our residents, and it really gets the blood flowing. They are using different muscles and getting exercise,” Rose Tree Place Community Life Director Karen Holahan said. “Our residents can’t wait for the next class each month. Years after starting this, our numbers are stronger than ever.”

LaPierre is a professional dancer and owner of LaPierre’s Ballroom Dance Studio in nearby Woodbury, NJ. His lessons at senior living communities are part of Ballroom Dancing for a Better U, a nonprofit organization that shares the idea that ballroom dancing can bring positive changes in the lives of every individual. But to LaPierre, it is more than just a class. It is an opportunity for residents and instructors alike to make genuine connections with each other.

“The energy the Rose Tree Place residents bring to class is really fun. They are very active, and it’s nice to connect with them,” he said. “We dance, but we also talk about their families and where they grew up. It’s just a great group of people.”

Resident Bobbie Poppel’s love of dancing traces back to her time in tap and ballet classes as a little girl. In fact, she even met her husband on the dance floor. When she got back on the floor with LaPierre, it was a pleasant stroll down memory lane. 

“Gene, the dance instructor, came over to me, held out his hand and asked if I wanted to dance,” said Poppel, a Rose Tree Place resident for seven months. “We were doing the foxtrot, and I loved it. I felt like I was soaring; nothing else around me seemed to exist.”

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