Meet the Calendar Girls
Most anyone at an event in southwest Florida has come across the Calendar Girls, women in dazzling outfits dancing to entertain and raise cash for social causes. A Calendar Girl is not your average entertainer; she must be at least 50, with many a few years beyond the minimum. The team boasts 1,000 years of combined experience, and the performances are fun and well choreographed. They call themselves Maturity in Motion. The team got started after a half-time show at a local basketball game. Outfits and themes run the gamut from cowgirls to pirates. And in each performance dancers wear a new outfit, mostly hand-made. Auditions are always open.
The Calendar Girls appear often in Sanibel/Captiva, with a memorable fund-raiser last summer for Steve Gibson, an islander injured in a ladder fall and struggling to meet his obligations. It was like rock stars arriving, firing up the American Legion Post No. 123. The Calendar Girls are in Sanibel on March 21 to perform at the Lions Club Arts & Crafts Fair. The event is at the Sanibel Community House. Most of the funds they raise benefit a guide-dog program for impaired veterans. Paws for Patriots is out of Palmetto. The cost to train a guide dog is about $60,000.
The Islander asked the Calendar Girls’ Katherine Shortlidge to share more about the team.
Islander: The Calendar Girls are everywhere. How’s that possible?
KS: We are everywhere due to sheer grit and determination. When southwest Florida calls, we grab the phone like gunslingers! In our 10 years together, we have not turned down an opportunity. Our reliability creates a huge fan base. We love return engagements and feel flattered when fans/customers recommend us to others. With 130 volunteer performances a year, our strong suit is reliability and a quality performance.
Islander: It must be crazy getting the costumes and routines together. What’s it like behind the scenes?
KS: With a team of 25 members we are cost efficient in costuming. Many of our looks are from costume consignment stores across the country or Walmart and Goodwill. Creative team members come up with original looks we achieve economically. We want our dollars to go toward our charity, not costuming.
Like good Girl Scouts, we are prepared. We know a month ahead of time what we are to wear at each performance. We arrive early and have time to collect our thoughts before each show. We constantly help each other with costumes and dance routines. It is not as hectic as one might think. 130 performances a year make us calm, seasoned veterans of musical theater.
Islander: You see lots of smiles at performances. What’s it feel like on stage?
KS: Our audiences love usso it is easy to smile back and have fun. Knowing choreography with confidence helps us relax and enjoy the moment. It is hard to be nervous when you perform 130 days/year for many, many years. We truly thrive under the spotlight. The larger the venue the better. We look forward to dancing for 7,000 people at Florida Sports Park~ Swamp Buggy Races Jan. 31! Hooah!
Islander: Anything dramatic during a Calendar Girls performance? How do you handle “fresh” men?
KS: The most dramatic occurrence is sound system failure. For 10 years we have relied on volunteer sound technician Bill Floyd. When the sound system fails, ALL eyes on are Bill, not the Calendar Girls. Bill has suffered through more dramatic and embarrassing moments than our entire dance team. So far no fresh men because Bill also doubles as our 24/7 bodyguard.
Islander: What’s the story with recruiting?
KS: As a team of delightfully dangerous volunteers, we welcome new talent. We want our team to be as successful and diverse as possible. We have the largest senior dance team in Southwest Florida because we are receptive to all women who want to join us wearing spandex and sequins.