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Documentary ‘Calendar Girls’ follows a flamboyant dance troupe made up of high-class women in Florida


Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

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Wearing matching glittery unicorn hats, rainbow capes, or white furry boots, a troupe of 30 elderly women have made a name for themselves throughout South Florida with their choreographed dances. sing pop music. Called “The Girls in the Calendar,” the dancers are no professionals, but participate in 130 shows a year – and do their own makeup and styling from YouTube tutorials – under the strict direction of Dr. 71-year-old athlete Katherine Shortlidge.

Calendar The girls are ready to dance in unicorn hats and rainbow t-shirts.

Calendar The girls are ready to dance in unicorn hats and rainbow t-shirts. Credit: Love Martinsen

Their lives are the focus of a new documentary that has circled the festival and debuted in select theaters in New York and Los Angeles, among other cities, this month.

In “Calendar Girls,” Swedish filmmakers Maria Loohufvud and Love Martinsen follow the group as they navigate a phase of life that may have been misrepresented in popular culture: As children grow up and careers going down, they are looking for a new direction. Through performing, some women have more relaxed skin, wear revealing outfits and sparkly makeup they may have never worn before, promoting themselves physically and emotionally. be creative, and focus – perhaps for the first time – on prioritizing others’ self.

A girl dances on a regular schedule holding a hand mirror and a pink leopard print outfit.

A girl dances on a regular schedule holding a hand mirror and a pink leopard print outfit. Credit: Love Martinsen

“Their transformation is exciting,” Martinsen said on a video call. “You don’t think so much, but continue to change your life.”

Some people found the dance group by accident: Nancy, a former police officer who retired early due to hearing loss, joined after seeing the dance troupe perform at a shopping mall and saw an opportunity to show off. another version of himself.

“We talked about this movie as if it were a coming-of-age story, but a coming-of-age story,” Loohufvud added on the same call.

Golden year

The directors, a married couple, filmed the dance troupe for two years after encountering the Calendar Girls at an event while on vacation with their children in the Fort Myers area.

“They started dancing, and it was fascinating – we couldn’t stop watching. It made us so happy,” Loohufvud recalls. They reached out to Shortlidge, who founded the group more than a decade ago, for an initial interview, but did not expect to shoot a documentary on the subject.

When they spoke to many of the crew, they were touched by how dancing affected women’s sense of self. The filmmakers wanted to show a different perspective on life after 60, which places the dancers’ personal relationships and dedication to their practice. Some women struggle with health diagnoses, whose spouses don’t support their decision to jump non-traditional jobs and work into retirement. Being part of the Calendar Girls gives them a support system.

The dance troupe split into a formation that spread their arms at different levels.

The dance troupe split into a formation that spread their arms at different levels. Credit: Love Martinsen

Loohufvud points out that many films often don’t take women over a certain age seriously. “A lot of them tend to make fun of the character, like a woman over 60 wanting to be sexy,” she said.

Martinsen added that movies also don’t tend to take their current experience seriously. “Very often (the story is) about their past lives. It’s not about their present life.”

Through Calendar Girls performances, the women raise money for Southeast Guide Dogs, an organization that delivers trained dogs to veterans. Early in the film, Shortlidge says the group has given her a new sense of purpose.

“This is going to be the 14 years of my life I’ve been doing this – there’s nothing in it that I regret,” she said. “I love performing. I love the idea of ​​serving my community… We’re not just old people out there dancing around – we’re doing this for a reason.”

“Calendar Girl” will open in select US theaters in November.

Add to queue: Women, reconfigured

To listen: Antique model“(2022–)

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, is the man behind one of the most popular new podcasts of the year. She brought in a guest list that included Serena Williams, Margaret Cho, Issa Rae and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to remove the labels that were simply ascribed to women, such as “good” or “bad” mothers. “, the stereotype of “diva” or “angry black woman,” and the double standards of ambition.

Read: How old are women?“by Jillian Steinhauer (2021)

Art critic Jillian Steinhauer wrote for Believer magazine about the art world’s tendency to “discover” female artists in the last years of their lives. “The best way to succeed as a female artist is to grow old. Not quite dead yet, but with the specter of death stalking you …”, she wrote. “It’s better if you’ve been doing art for a long time, and it’s either dust in your home, rarely displayed, or exhibited mainly in alternative and educational spaces… Fellow Time is a safe choice as you are the explorer.”

Clock:Good luck to you, Leo Grande“(2022)
This British comedy stars Emma Thompson as a 55-year-old retired teacher who hires a 20-year-old sex worker to help her achieve her first orgasm, after her husband, the only sex partner hers, died. The film was recently eligible for an Oscar, and Thompson told Vanity Fair in a podcast that she hopes it will pave the way for more stories in the same vein.
Terry McMillan is a master at writing books about black women embarking on a path of self-discovery (see the iconic “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) and her most recent title focuses on a one-stop shop. 68-year-old beauty supply store. owner whose life is suddenly shaken by loss. “I’m not sure anyone is interested in this story,” McMillan told The Guardian at the time of the book’s release. “It’s not that I don’t find it bad. It’s just… this is the story of a 68-year-old woman. I wondered, ‘How many people are going to read this?'”

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