Every evening at 7:30 p.m., Liang Xiu Wen (front row, left), cycles from her home in the Port Union community to lead a group of enthusiastic women in dance at the Port Union Village Common. All are welcome to join in.
By Denise Bacon
A radiant, smiling woman came cycling round the corner into Port Union Commons with a nondescript bag hanging from the handlebars. This was my first impression of dynamo Liang Xiu Wen. This impression was just the beginning of a delightful experience on a beautiful evening in September.
Every evening at 7:30 p.m., Liang makes this bicycle trip from her home in the Port Union community to lead a group of enthusiastic women in dance. Yes, dance! Yes, outside, even as the light gives in to dusk! Her bag contains a small radio, which is the source of beautiful music to which everyone moves with energy and grace.
Liang’s persona belies her 70 years of age. She beams as she tells me about how much she loves to dance and to include others in this passion. Dance allows her to “play with people” and exercise. She says that exercise helps keep people healthy in body, mind and spirit. Dance makes people happy and happiness leads to health. In a short moment of reflection and with a twinkle in her eyes, Liang commented that good health reduces medical expenses and the medical burden on society! Smiling, Liang gushed about how much she loves bringing people together in this wonderful way.
Liang started dancing in Port Union Commons in the summer of 2015. She would spend the summers here with her daughter and wanted to continue dancing as she did at home in China. To our good fortune, Liang is now a permanent resident in our community.
Edna Din, a Centennial resident, noticed the dancing two years ago as she was walking in the area and was drawn in. Edna is now a regular participant and loving the dance and camaraderie. She is learning Mandarin along the way. Edna says that the women come from different backgrounds, and it’s quite amazing that there is no language barrier. Music, smiles and dance have become a common language.
Susan, another Centennial resident, mentioned that a friend brought her along in June this year and she, too, has become an enthusiastic regular. This dancing for an hour is the only exercise that Susan does and she proudly told me that she has lost 10 pounds since she started three months ago!
On Friday nights, the women dress in red and black. Recently, they have started purchasing matching outfits, so my visit was a delight of the senses – sight, sound and dance. Passersby stop, smile and comment about what a wonderful community we have!
Most of the women live in Centennial and some bring friends from nearby communities. They look forward to spending their evenings with Liang and with each other. The big concern now is what will happen to this group once the weather turns too cold to dance outside. They want to keep up this healthy, fun activity, especially during the cold dark evenings ahead. Liang and her friends are hoping to find a space where they can continue to dance until the weather welcomes them back to Port Union Commons next summer.