‘I wanted to keep fit and I thought I can't stand gyms – all those machines and no talking, I’d be bored. I wanted to move with music because I love music and I’d heard line dancing was something that people can enjoy when they get older, with or without partners,’ says Marie Pietersz.

Line dancing was best known as an activity for boot scooting cowboys and girls when it was introduced to Australia some 30 years ago, but, these days in Melbourne, Marie Pietersz’ classes are booked solid by seniors. 

Marie has always loved to dance so when her children were grown and her husband hit the golf course, she took herself down to the University of the Third Age (U3A) Nunawading to learn line dancing. When there wasn’t a class on offer, she started her own.

‘I wanted to keep fit and I thought I can't stand gyms – all those machines and no talking, I’d be bored. I wanted to move with music because I love music and I’d heard line dancing was something that people can enjoy when they get older, with or without partners,’ Marie says.

‘It’s perfect because you can go on your own and you still get the exercise and use your mental capacity to learn the combination of moves,’ she says.

U3A linedancing

‘You don't use too much energy if you are not super fit, three-and-a-half minutes is usually the maximum length of a song, and I can slow the pace of the music down to suit the fitness and ages of the dancers.’

From the very first lesson, her class was a hit. ‘I had about 70 people in a class when I first started, and the halls were just packed.

‘What I love most is seeing how the older people get up and try so enthusiastically to master the steps,’ Marie says. ‘It's amazing. One of my dancers last year was 91 years old and she moved like a 50-year-old. They can be comfortable knowing that no one's looking at them to make sure that they are technically correct, so they can just have fun.
‘My motto is, “Keeping the seniors on the floor for longer”.’

Marie and her students have performed for the Victorian Seniors Festival for 5 years and she is again one of the faces for this year’s reimagined festival.