Dance with grace comes from experience

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Carol Sorgen

The Ageless Grace dance concert, comprised of dancers from their 40s to their 70s, will include a performance by Dance Alchemy, a Baltimore-based company focused on spreading peace through dance. The performance will be on May 7.
Photo courtesy of Dance Baltimore

Their legs may not extend as high or their pliés be as deep, but older dancers bring a depth to their performance that younger dancers cannot. That’s the view of Torens Johnson, producer of this year’s “Ageless Grace” dance concert, to be held Sunday, May 7 at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson.

​Dance Baltimore, a nonprofit arts organization directed by Cheryl Goodman, will once again present “Ageless Grace,” featuring both former professional dancers as well as recreational dancers ranging in age from their 40s through their 70s.

“Older dancers give a more seasoned performance,” said Johnson, 46. Johnson, originally from Smithfield, Va., has been a dance “gypsy” most of his life. “Wherever dance calls, I go,” he said. “I don’t think I could do anything else. Dance is in my DNA. It’s all I can really do.”

While not all the Ageless Grace performers are professional dancers, as Johnson is, they all have a passion for the art — whether they’re doctors, lawyers, police officers or teachers. “This concert gives them a vehicle to express their passion,” he said.

An annual event

This year’s concert will feature approximately 10 acts, ranging from ensembles to solos, and including such performers as Tapsichore, Itinerant Dance Company, Dance Alchemy, and solos by Yvette Shipley-Perkins, CJay Philip, and belly dancer Antonia.

​“The annual Ageless Grace concert has become one of the most inspiring productions we offer,” said Goodman. “The dancers onstage are older, but our audience for this event is always mixed in age, with everyone touched by seeing life so passionately and continuously expressed, regardless of age. I love watching the show; I love dancing in the show.”

According to Goodman, this year’s concert will be different in that new dancers and more former professionals have been invited to perform.

CJay Philip, whose Broadway credits include Hairspray, Street Corner Symphony and Big the Musical (she also toured with Dreamgirls and Legally Blonde), will be performing a song and dance number, “Music and the Mirror,” from A Chorus Line.

“It was the first piece of music I performed when I was just 15,” recalled Philip. At the time the song was too mature for her, she realizes, “but now I have the background and experience to do it justice.”

Apart from lending her Broadway roots to “Ageless Grace,” Philip has developed a monthly event, “Broadway Live” —​ a “hangout for Broadway geeks” that meets at the Motor House at 120 W. North Ave. in Baltimore’s Station North Arts & Entertainment District. It features an open mic, Broadway trivia, dancing, games, and sing-along songs. (For more information, email

Philip herself is inspired by the other dancers performing in “Ageless Grace.”

“They bring a presence and self-confidence to their performance,” she said. “They have an attitude of, ‘I know who I am, even if my kicks aren’t as high.’ The pieces they perform are meaningful, whether they make you laugh or make you cry.”

Dance as communication

Dance teacher Diedre Dawkins, 43, sees dance as a way to educate and enlighten her students and her audiences. Dawkins — a modern and West African dancer — says that dance has always been her form of communication, since she was a quiet child. “It’s a way for me to tell stories.”

“Ageless Grace” gives performers the opportunity to step forward and say, “‘This is who I am,’” said Johnson. “We’re all still in love with dance.”

​The show will be presented twice on May 7, at 4 and 7 p.m., at the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, 3135 Eastern Ave.

Tickets for “Ageless Grace” can be purchased online at General admission seating is $15 in advance; $18 at the door.

For more information about Dance Baltimore and all upcoming concerts, visit or call (410) 370-8994.