The Kickers were formed in 1992 at the McCleskey-East Cobb Family YMCA after the founding member and previous director Judy Guard returned from seeing the Dancing Grannies perform in Minnesota.
Brenda Smith, 63, is the newest director. She took over two years ago and has been with the group for 16 years.
“I love to dance and it’s just a great group of ladies,” Smith said. “We feel like we’re doing some good going out in the community and bringing them a little cheer for the day by performing.”
She is the youngest of about 25 women who perform in about 30 shows each year between September and June at assisted living and personal care centers, rehabilitation centers, support groups, senior church groups, educational seminars and health fairs.
“We’re like a much older Rockettes,” Smith said. “We move a little slower, kick a little lower but wear a whole lot more.”
Members make their own costumes, which are decked out with rhinestones, sequins and bright colors, and practice their routines twice a week at the McCleskey YMCA off East Piedmont Road in Marietta.
One of the oldest members is 82-year-old Joan O’Connor of Kennesaw, who joined the group 20 years ago.
“I always wanted to take dancing classes when I was little but I was one of eight children and we could never afford the classes,” she said. “When I read about the Kickers after they organized, I thought, ‘I can finally take dance classes!”
She also has enjoyed the comradery of the group and how they support each other through surgeries, illnesses or family losses.
“We boost each other … the morale of each other,” she said.
Shelby Prather of Marietta joined the group around seven years ago.
“I love any kind of dancing,” she said. “(The Kickers) bring good cheer to many in the community and inspire other seniors to stay active.”
She also square dances with her husband and the Silver Stars out of east Cobb.
Former Cobb County educator Jan Clos was introduced to the Kickers by two other members after she retired many years ago.
“I just fell in love with their dancing and they were very positive and,” she said. “When you perform for somebody, you get more back than you give … it’s very uplifting to both the audiences and us and we enjoy meeting new people.”
The group will begin practicing this summer and is looking for new dancers. There are no requirements to be a part of the group but if you are not a member of the local YMCA, there is a $25 monthly charge.
For more information, call Smith at 678-591-1315.