'Try anything': Japan's silverhaired cheer-dancing squad
Cochin Herald|May - June 2021
Pompoms rustle and silver shoes flash as Japan Pom Pom practices, moving to a lively cheer dance beat. With members ages 60 to 89, they're no ordinary squad.

But don't you dare call them grannies.

Right at the start, we weren't very happy about being called 'granny cheer dancers,' says Fumie Takino, the bubbly, energetic 89-year-old who founded Japan Pom Pom - average age, 72 years - more than 25 years ago.

At a recent weekly practice, resumed after a year off, mask-wearing members checked temperatures before stretching, then moved into their dance routines - socially distanced, of course.

Though most wore sweatpants and t-shirts with a glittery Japan Pom Pom, for performances they don sequined, mini-skirted cheer costumes. For one routine, Takino wears a leather biker jacket and shades; in another, all sport silver wigs.

It's dancing; moving your body is nice, she said. And the costumes are unbelievably showy. Some people join just so they can wear them.

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