Floyd Crellin celebrated his 100th birthday in April of this year – and he celebrated with not one ballroom dance, but two!
Floyd is now at Goddard House, an assisted living facility, but that hasn’t slowed his dancing! After breaking his hip three years ago, his physical therapist used dancing as a way to engage him as part of rehabilitation. “She taught me to walk, and I taught her to dance,’’ the dapper Crellin told the crowd.
A crowd of family, friends, residents and staff at the facility celebrated the centenarian’s milestone with an event that also honored Crellin’s lifelong passion for ballroom dancing. Several professional ballroom dancers were brought in as entertainment, but the real show was Crellin himself.
He did an impromptu waltz with one of the dance professionals, and then performed a rehearsed routine with his physical therapist, Mary Keohane.
What has kept him not only physically healthy for 100 years, but young at heart?
Crellin credits dancing, “I love dancing and the people you meet,’’ he said.
Crellin began dancing at the age of 7 when he accompanied his mom to ballroom dance lessons after his father died. He then continued to dance his entire life no matter where his job took him.
“And he’s a true gentleman, meticulous about his appearance and concerned about decorum, that people do things the right way, treat each other with respect,’’ says Crellin’s son. Manners and respect learned from a lifetime a ballroom dancing!
Crellin and his late wife, Elizabeth, danced informally while raising their children, and then began taking formal dance classes. “We were always trying to learn new steps,’’ he recalled.
Eventually, while working full time for Eastman Kodak, Crellin started his own dancing school in the basement of a friend’s store. After a dance exhibition at a department party, Floyd and his wife were asked to teach ballroom dance at Kodak, where co-workers called him “Twinkle Toes’’ because of his proclivity to dance in the elevators.
Crellin eventually retired to a community in Florida, where he continued to dance and teach. Now that he’s moved to the assisted living facility, Crellin doesn’t teach, but he still loves to dance!
Nancy Shapiro, Goddard’s executive director, said dance and movement therapy is particularly beneficial for older adults, providing not just the benefits of exercise, but enhanced cognitive skills, motivation, and memory.
“On an emotional level, it helps people feel more joyful and confident, and allows them to explore such issues as frustration and loss that may be too difficult to explore verbally,’’ said Shapiro.
Most people who break a hip at Crellin’s age spend the rest of their lives in a wheelchair, or at best using a walker. But Crellin was determined to walk on his own and according to his son, “his desire to dance inspired him.’’
Using dance for elderly patients can be especially effective therapy to increase balance and endurance as well as alleviate depression.