August 17, 2018

102-year-old former dancer sees herself dancing on video for the first time

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Alice Barker was a famous chorus line dancer way back during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s. Yet she only got to see herself in recorded motion after celebrating her 102nd birthday. The precious moments were captured on a video posted to YouTube.

She lived to a great age, but Barker still had more surprises to come. Mark Cantor and David Shuff gave the 102-year-old a heartwarming treat when they discovered some old jazz "soundies" (short musical films). On there, a group called the "Sepia Steppers" featured Barker, among others, dancing in several clubs. 

After watching the recording of Barker's reaction, one can't help but smile as she describes her blissful memories from the past:


"It just felt so good doing it. Because that music - I just get carried away in it."

Her passion for dance never faded. When questioned about how she feels watching the videos, Barker responds:

"Making me wish I could get out of bed and do it all over again."

Those present in the room shared great delight with the centenarian, who they affectionately and respectfully called "Ms. Barker."


After another viewing of even more videos two weeks later, she's asked again how she feels.

"It's just fabulous! Fabulous to see these."

Barker shared some insight with her visitors: 

"I used to often say to myself, 'I am being paid to do something that I enjoy doing and I would do it for free.' "

Barker performed with legends like Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra. Back then, she gained the nickname "Chicken Little" because whenever she and fellow dancers went out, she always chose chicken to eat. 

She recalled also that they often used to misspell her name, missing out the middle "r" and writing Baker instead. 

Sadly, Alice Barker passed away in tranquility a year later in 2016. She enjoyed her final day listening to music and having fanmail read to her. The outpouring of support she received after the video's release had kept her heart filled before her she left.