A group of women in the retirement community of Sun City, Arizona are shattering the idea that growing old means growing feeble.
The 20 or so women who dance and march for the Sun City Poms are all at least 55-years-old. But they keep up a performance and practice schedule that would have some younger squads reeling.
So who are The Poms?
The group started out as a cheerleading squad for the Sun City Saints women’s softball team in the late 1970s, but they’ve morphed into two units - one that performs and one that marches - that appear in around 50 performances across the state each year. They’ve entertained people at parades and halftime performances all over Arizona, including the widely watched Fiesta Bowl Parade.
The team is not for the faint of heart. According to their website, “Dance skills of rhythm, agility, poise, energy, and showmanship for performing are required. Acrobatics and baton twirling are a plus.” The performance squad practices three times per week to perfect their pyramids, headstands, leg lifts and splits.
But don’t call them cheerleaders. They might have started out that way, but they bristle at the term now. They’re more of a dance group that does some acrobatics, according to Sue Randall, the group’s director.
They’ve been around for decades but gained recent attention after photographer Todd Antony snapped some photos of The Poms decked out in sparkles and sequins, pom poms held aloft, looking nothing like the conventional idea of “senior citizens.”
“While I was there I couldn’t help but think that with the American obsession for child beauty pageants, you have one age group of society trying to grow up way too fast, while at the other end of the age scale another group strives to hold back the years in some way,” Antony wrote on his blog. “And [doing] a pretty damn good job of it really…”
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.