Monday, October 26, 2009

Elita Sohmer Clayman

TSo you think you can dance?

“Of course you can!” says Elita Sohmer Clayman, a 75-year old ballroom dance enthusiast from Baltimore, Maryland.

Thirty-two years ago, on November 2, 1977, this elegant elder and her husband Jerry took their first dance class together, hoping to be able to do a respectable waltz and rumba at an affair they were putting on for their son’s 13th birthday.

Little did Elita know when she walked into the studio that day that her life was about to change forever.   "The first thing I saw on the shelves were some trophies some of the students had won," Elita writes in an e-mail to me.  "Then and there, I knew that was what I wanted on my shelves."

Today Elita's shelves are full, her first series of ten lessons having led to a grand total of 58 trophies and medals.

Until a June 2008 car accident sidelined her (a man ran a red light while texting), she danced regularly.  She spent the next ten months recuperating.

Now, drawing upon the same drive and tenacity that led her to enroll in college at age 33 and graduate with honors five years later, she’s back! Retired from competing and slim and trim from losing 70 pounds at Weight Watchers, she and Jerry are once again going to a local studio every Sunday to dance for fun and exercise.

Besides the rumba, cha cha, merengue and waltz, this irrepressible woman loves nothing more than inspiring other seniors to take up dancing. For 17 years she wrote a column for the now-defunct Amateur Dancers magazine. She now writes for two websites— (click on "Elita’s Corner") and, the official Fred Astaire newsletter.

Her encouraging articles have over 50,000 readers.

“Dancing exercises the mind as well as the body,” Elita raves.  “No matter how old you are, you can always attempt something new.”


  1. Good for Elita!

    And hit by someone texting? Gee, people are so stupid!

  2. I know, Diane. The texting while driving thing stood out for me as well.

  3. Elita is setting an example for us all. For one thing, if we don't get over being self conscious by the time we get to be her age, we may never get the chance to do it. That is one of the big parts of dancing--for me, anyway. Knowing that it isn't important what other people think.

  4. I have become friends with Elita on facebook. We have been drawn together as our names are pronounced identically. She truly is an inspiration and she spreads encouragement to all!