They do a great performance to “Putting on the Ritz” that sees them doing a series of acrobatic and dance moves that people half their age might find difficult! Today’s performance ended with the entire audience singing “Happy Birthday” to the troupe’s oldest member, Alfred, who will turn 85 on the day of the closing ceremonies here. I had a quick chat with a few of the members afterwards…
Teresa Wanat (Has been coaching the Dynamos for 7 years).
Can you tell me a bit more about the group?
The Dynamos have been together since 1996. They broke off from the U of agers because they wanted to do more acrobatic work as opposed to just dance. Their age range is currently 57 to 85 and we currently have 10 members. We train once a week for 1.5 hours.
Not only are they good here, but they really work hard to get here. We did Edmonton Eskimos football games – cleaning the concourse, sweeping for 5 hours to raise money. That’s what I take my hat off to. Not only their work ethic while they’re in the gym.
How did you get involved with the Dynamos?
I came to Europe when I was 10 and saw huge performances with 28,000 people synchronized together in a routine and that always sparked my imagination. I ended up being in Vancouver and they started up a gymnaestrada group there and just started working there. The Alberta Gymnastics Federation then hired me to choreograph the big mass routines with 400 which really interested me, and then somebody recommended the Dynamos to me because they no longer felt they had creativity at that point. I took them on and have had them ever since! They’re wonderful to work with.
What sort of unique challenges do you face working with a group this age?
There’s all sorts of challenges. You know even today, Arnold’s hearing aid fell out so as he was scrambling to put it back in his ear, sure enough they missed their beat. So now they can’t hear! But the challenges are numerous. There are so many unique things that keep presenting themselves. I’ve been with them seven years and as they get older it’s getting more interesting all the time.
ALFRED PAPE (84-years-old – will celebrate his 85th birthday on the day of the closing ceremonies)
How long have you been with the Dynamos?
Just for a year. I had a heart attack, and at one of the cardiac athletic society meetings, the Dynamos performed and I thought, “My, that must be fun!” So I went out and so they embraced me!
I’ve had a great deal of fun doing it.
What do you like about it?
#1 is the camaraderie – they are a great people of to work with, play with, exercise with. And two, as I’m a widower, it gives me another thing to do. In addition, the social aspect of it is terrific as well. We go out for coffee, we celebrate each other’s birthdays. It’s just simply a lot of fun.
Did you do gymnastics when you were younger?
When I was a boy I did gymnastics, but there’s been a great gap between then and now! I’m afraid I’m not quite as nimble and agile as I was when I was in grade school, but I enjoyed it then, but of course when you have a family, and work, you just don’t have time for everything.
Yvonne Schopff (70-years-old. Has been with the Dynamo’s for four years).
What would you say to someone who hadn’t done this before?
You don’t have to do what the young kids do, you do according to your abilities! That’s all you can do. You have to try it! Don’t be scared! We talk to a lot of seniors about joining us, and they say, “Oh we can’t do that!” – but how do you know until you try it? You have to try it. You have to keep mobile instead of just sitting in front of the TV – you live longer that way!
Arnold Nett (82-years-old. A Founding member of the Dynamos along with Anne Black)
So why did you want to start something like this?
I do it to try to stay in shape. (Teresa pipes in to tell me that he just got back from the US National Senior Games, where he won 2 gold medals (long jump and triple jump), and 2 bronze (50m sprint and high jump).
I did track in high school, but then after high school you don’t do anything until you become 55 and then you start over again with senior Games and stuff.
Watch this great video on the Dynamos for more inspiration!
And you can watch their “Putting on the Ritz” performance from today via the Periscope app (available for iPhone and Android) by following @CDNgymnastics. The group performed along with the clubs Rhythmic Waves and Sampo, so are the last group in the video.
OR – you can watch their performance from the Canadian Gymnaestrada in Calgary last year.