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Dance’n Feet wows audiences with a troupe of mature women

Dance’n Feet, an ensemble of women in their 60s and 70s, rehearses for an upcoming performance.

Dance’n Feet, an ensemble of women in their 60s and 70s, rehearses for an upcoming performance.

DANCING WITH AGE: Peggy Wacks of Lexington said audiences typically greet an appearance on stage by Dance’n Feet with polite applause. But after they see the jazz, modern, and acrobatic dance numbers by the ensemble of women in their 60s and 70s, the ovation is considerably louder.

“We’re not professional dancers. Our technique is not perfect,” Wacks said. “But we have a lot of fun and do things people don’t expect for our age.”

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Formed in 1997 and now sponsored by the Newton Parks and Recreation Department, Dance’n Feet has nine members from Newton, Needham, Wayland, Lexington, Weston, and as far away as Fall River. They have more than 30 grandchildren among them, according to Wacks, and most are retired, after careers in medicine, education, business, administration, athletics, and the arts.

Wacks, a retired pathologist, found out about Dance’n Feet from a friend and joined 10 years ago as a way to stay active, fit, and social. With choreography by Karen Krolak of Boston-based Monkeyhouse, the performers’ moves include cartwheels, headstands, somersaults, splits, and — the troupe’s signature — overhead lifts. There are no auditions and only two requirements: Candidates should be at least 50 years old, and able to rehearse regularly.

Wacks said she enjoys performing at community events and dance festivals in order to demonstrate that dancing can be a lifetime vocation for people of all backgrounds.

“We don’t have a message,” Wacks said. “We just want to have fun.”

Rehearsals, which take place in Newton Lower Falls on Wednesdays from 6 to 7:30 p.m., begin for the new season on Sept. 18. For the location and more information, e-mail peggy.wacks@gmail.com.

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR: Ralph Hammond of Bedford said he began to worry when his longtime friend, Bea Brown, recently insisted on coming to his house to deliver some news. But when he saw a familiar envelope with the town seal, he became a little embarrassed instead.

Brown was delivering the official letter congratulating the 68-year-old on being named the 2013 Bedford Citizen of the Year.

“I was flabbergasted,” Hammond said. “I said, ‘Why don’t we scratch out my name and put yours instead?’ ”

The lifelong Bedford resident said there were “more cows than kids” when he was growing up on Davis Road in the late 1940s and early ’50s. He went on to enjoy a 26-year career in some of the very schools he attended, as a teacher and vice principal at Center School (which closed in 1979), principal of the Lane and Davis elementary schools, and the district’s first director of computer education.

His retirement in 1995 allowed more time for international travel — he has visited 20 nations — and a new passion in promoting global health and literacy through the Rotary Club of Bedford, where he has served as president and in a number of other capacities.

While Hammond prefers to avoid the spotlight associated with leading a volunteer effort, he is a frequent and committed behind-the-scenes contributor. A trustee of the Job Lane House, Hammond has been active with the town’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, Arbor Resource Committee, Trails Committee, and Transportation Advisory Committee, helping to make Bedford a more bike-able and walk-able community.

In addition, Hammond (above) and his wife, Jean, serve as Bedford conservation land stewards, and have participated for a decade as riders and volunteers in the Pan-Mass. Challenge fund-raiser for cancer research. And for the past five years, he has volunteered on the hospice unit at the Bedford VA Medical Center.

Hammond said that learning through teamwork has made his life “fun, effective, and meaningful.

“Bedford is a special jewel, with so many talented, caring, and giving people who very quietly do wonderful things locally, regionally, and internationally,” he added. “I’ve been fortunate to work with many of them, and it’s been a true honor.”

Hammond will be recognized on Sept. 21, when he will ride in the lead convertible in the Bedford Day parade starting at 10:30 a.m. A public reception, which will also feature the Bedford Minuteman Company’s ceremonial changing of officers, will take place on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Room of Old Town Hall, 16 South Road in Bedford.

TALKING ABOUT FOOD: Lexington resident Debra Samuels will kick off Lexington Community Education’s fall semester with her lecture, “The Accidental Food Writer: From Correspondent to Cookbook Author,” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at Lexington Depot, 13 Depot Square.

A cookbook author, cooking teacher, and travel and food writer who has written for The Boston Globe, Samuels will discuss where ideas come from, the importance of accuracy, testing recipes, travel writing, the path to publishing cookbooks, and how to stay relevant.

“Food is an international language, a bridge across cultures,” said Samuels, who studied Italian, Indian, Korean, and Japanese cuisine while living for more than a decade in Japan and Italy. “My objective is to educate, entertain, and encourage people of all ages to be creative and to care about its preparation and presentation.”

Admission is $10, and preregistration is required; call 781-862-8043. For more details, visit www.cookingatdebras.com.

VOLUNTEER DIRECTOR: Brookline artist Lola Baltzell (above) has been appointed exhibitions director for the all-volunteer board of the nonprofit International Encaustic Artists organization.

Baltzell began her curatorial work four years ago with the War and Peace Project, a collaboration of 747 individual collages that has been shown in Boston, New York, and Russia.

The traveling exhibition will be on display at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in February.

In addition, Baltzell has been a board member of MassWax, the local chapter of International Encaustic Artists, since last year.

People items may be submitted to Cindy Cantrell at cantrell@globe.com.
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