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InterView magazine

Let's Dance

Mary ArcherWhen she walked into her first dance studio at eight years old, La Quinta resident and Inter Valley member, Mary Archer knew she wanted to be a dancer. Archer has never looked back. Now at 75 years of age she has studied all kinds of dance, even earning herself a Doctorate in Performing Arts, but her first love has always been tap dancing.

Archer, originally from Brooklyn, NY, began dancing professionally in 1960 when she teamed up with a childhood friend to form the tap dancing duo Stanford & Lynn. Together they spent the next 10 years traveling the world performing their “song and dance” act everywhere from nightclubs to cruise ships. Over the course of her career she has performed with Danny Thomas, Dionne Warwick, Cab Calloway, Gregory Hines, Paul Anka (in photo with Stanford & Lynn), and many more. “We were very fortunate,” she remembers, “Some people have it hard in show business. We didn’t. We loved what we were doing and every door opened.”Mary Archer and partner

Mary with Paul Anka
Life-Changing Experience
Eventually, Archer changed gears from performing on the road and opened a dance studio with her partner. She then began to focus on teaching as well as performing.

While living in Boca Raton, Florida, Archer taught tap dancing classes at the Boca Raton Resort and Country Club. Someone suggested to her that her troupe, the “Boca Tappers,” should audition for an upcoming “Seniors Got Talent” show.
They did, making it through four rounds of auditions and into the show. “It was
life changing for them,” she says. It was life changing for them,” she
says. It was life changing Archer as well. At the show, a neurologist and memory
disorder specialist spoke about the positive effects dancing, and exercise in general, can have on the brain.
“Though it is true that the brain loses neurons throughout life,” Archer says, “studies have shown that it is not the number of neurons that determines intellectual capacity, but rather the connections between neurons. These connections are tiny branches of the neurons that grow and develop when the brain is exposed to a rich, stimulating environment.” As Archer began to realize just how much her dance and performance classes could improve the quality of life for older adults, she was moved to begin thinking about her teaching in a new way.

Energy & Education: A Mind-Body Connection

At age 73, Archer moved across the country to La Quinta, California. It did not take long for her to find her footing. Building on her formal education, professional dance experience, and research of the mind-body connection, Archer created a new “dance” program, modifying it so that she could share
her message of “dance as transformation” with a broader spectrum of students.
Archer’s classes are not just about entertainment or exercise, though they offer both in spades. Archer purposely uses the stimulation of music and choreography to reinvigorate the minds of her students. Her program now encourages people who use walkers or wheelchairs and those with Alzheimer’s
disease, dementia, or schizophrenia to participate in dance routines at their own
speed. Because Alzheimer’s patients can often relate to the music of their youth, helping them to recall memories, she specifically chooses music that “speaks to their heart.” 

The positive responses and results from her students with Alzheimer/dementia are very encouraging and of benefit to their families and caregivers as well.

With enviable passion and energy, Archer brings her transformational tap classes to assisted living facilities where she can teach those who may benefit the most from her positive outlook, message, and experience. Whether it is assisted living facilities, performing arts schools, memory care centers or country clubs, her programs can help any age group. Archer also asserts that her Intergenerational Unity Performances within the community are of benefit to everyone.

To Archer, dancing is “a celebration of life.” She teaches her students, both young and old, that through dance, the arts and performing, they can find happiness and healing. “It’s euphoric,” she says, “the brain releases chemicals
that soothe and heal the body naturally.”

Archer brings passion and determination to all aspects of her life. She has spent countless hours in libraries and online, researching her passions. She is an avid reader and enjoys reading a wide variety of topics.

Archer has lived and taught tap dancing all over the world. Sometimes, looking back, she is overwhelmed thinking about all the places she has been, all the things she has done, and all the things that are still to come. “Whatever I do I always believe that I can do it…and it happens.” This is the philosophy she lives by and the message she imparts to her students.
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