The Payson Senior Center will add a Pilates exercise class and an Irish dance class to its lineup of spring activities.
The Pilates class will start on March 4 at noon, with the dance class in the evening, both taught by Valerie Casteneda at a pace suitable for all ages.
Pilates, as Casteneda teaches it, is a gentle mat workout that emphasizes core (abdominal) strength, flexibility and awareness. She uses up to 34 exercises in the floor Pilates workout from noon to 1 p.m. upstairs at the Payson Senior Center, 514 W. Main St. It is free for members of the Senior Center and $5 per class for non-members.
Irish Ceili group figure dancing class is easy and based on fundamental steps of Irish dance. Casteneda said participants can do the steps at their own pace. “It’s informal. It’s not a competition,” she said.
“I feel there’s a lot of interest, but regardless of the number that turns out, I want to give everyone the opportunity,” Casteneda said.
The 30 Ceili (pronounced “Kaylee”) Dances recognized by the An Coimisuin Le Rinci Gaelacha, the Irish Dancing Commission of Ireland, are fun, social dances that promote health. No need to bring a partner to learn the steps of Ceili Dance during the 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. classes — also free for Senior Center members and $5 per class for all others.
Casteneda has studied dancing, exercise and Hatha yoga since childhood. A native of the Globe-Miami area, she began studying ballet in third grade.
“Music and dance is where it’s at for me. I hear music and see and feel movement,” she said.
A dance teacher since 2001, she has taught for several community colleges in Arizona and private venues such as senior centers, long-term care units, parks and recreation departments. She has performed in dance concerts and has helped to organize such events.
Casteneda lived in Payson from 2005 to 2007 and then relocated to Branson, Mo., where she was the featured dancer for the Bleu Olive, a fine-dining Mediterranean restaurant from 2008-2011.
Since returning to Payson, she looks forward to teaching and sharing in the Rim Country once again.
Casteneda has performed and taught some dance classes at Dimi Espresso Café and is talking about teaching adult ballet at the Payson campus of Gila Community College in the future.
She is also collaborating on developing a program with classical guitarist Arturo Guevara of Payson combining Brazilian music and belly dance. The plan is to present the program Friday, March 14 at Dimi Espresso, she said.
The next day, from noon to 6 p.m., Saturday, March 15, Casteneda and members of the Rim Country Celts will have a St. Patrick’s Day event at Journigan House. At about 2 p.m., she will host interactive Irish dance with both live and recorded music.
Additional Celtic programs are planned in April.
To learn more about the Pilates and Irish dance classes at the Payson Senior Center, call (928) 474-4876.