By Emily Bialkowski
“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a prayer a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
– Shel Silverstein
You’ve seen them at parades twirling their hair, lighting up the streets and jamming to the sounds of the pop rock ’70s group ABBA. Their iridescent backdrop and costumes put most parade entrants to shame, and they offer something slightly off cuff yet refreshing. Who are these Mama’s Senior Dancing Queens?
As their name suggests, they all qualify for AARP membership and they all love ABBA. The trio includes Carol Dunt, of Brownsville, Debi Kloberdanz, of Kendalville, Iowa, and Cindy Shouradha, of Saratoga, Iowa. Over time, and as the production grew, the group has added Kennie Waller, Dan Kloberdanz, Bim Dunt and Gary and Mary Hovey.
This journey to stardom began for Carol Dunt a decade ago after seeing the Broadway play “Mama Mia” in San Francisco. The performance rang such a special chord for Dunt that she proceeded to see it as often as possible.
Meanwhile, Karen Pecinovsky had the same appreciation and dreamed of forming her own group. She approached her sister Debi Kloberdanz and Dunt.
“Debi and I said, ‘OK, we’re game. Let’s give it a shot,’” Dunt said.
And so in January 2011, the trio began practicing in a basement with nothing more than a CD and boom box.
The ladies met every week and perfected the song “Super Trouper” first.
“Two of Debi’s neighbors would come and watch us and give us suggestions. With their help, we came up with our own choreography and ideas except for the song ‘Dancing Queen,’ which was done by Lindsey Steinmetz, who choreographs for cheerleaders in Cresco, Iowa,” Dunt said.
Meanwhile, Pecinovsky knew a guy, Kennie Waller, who knew a thing or two about lights and sound. Waller attended a rehearsal and suggested a flashy curtain for a backdrop. He proceeded to make the curtain, while Kloberdanz’s husband Dan made the curtain stand. The unmistakable, sparkly backdrop has become as much a part of the show as the performers themselves.
After about six months of practice, Mama’s Senior Dancing Queens had six songs and dances memorized.
“It was time to get our feet wet and perform for someone,” Dunt said. “My husband and I went to see Terry Denstad, owner of the Shellhorn Bar in Brownsville, and asked if we could come and do our show for free.”
In July 2011 the group arrived at their first show in a limo, thanks to friends Gary and Mary Hovey. In August and September 2011, they added two parades to their tour and took first place at both. The Hoveys provided the group with a flat-bottom trailer and pickup, while Waller and Dan Kloberdanz hauled equipment and provided sound expertise.
By the fall of 2011 Pecinovsky had enough time in the limelight and wanted out. She was replaced by Cindy Souradha in October of that year.
In 2012 Mama’s Senior Dancing Queens added the Brownsville parade, La Crescent’s Applefest parade and several Oktoberfest parades to their experience.
Dunt also volunteers at an assisted living facility in La Crosse, which yielded two more performances. Once word got out, several organizations wanted to host the show, including class reunions, hospital recognitions, county fairs, corporate Christmas parties and more.
Kennie Waller has become the permanent sound man, and Mary Hovey has become the CEO and choreographer, while her husband pulls the trailer in parades. Bim Dunt has stepped up as master of ceremonies.
Most important, however, is that these enthusiastic dreamers continue to have the time of their lives.
To learn more about Mama’s Senior Dancing Queens, visit their Facebook page or call Carol Dunt at 507-482-6371.