82-year-old performer dancing in style during final show in The Villages

Jim Caisse dances in style.
Caisse, longtime director of Music In Motion, will perform his final show with the dance company on Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. at the Savannah Center.

The show is called “Tickets Please!” and features nearly three dozen dancers, as well as six local singers in The Villages.

Jim Caisse, center stage, with Music In Motion.

“I feel like I’m going out in style, but it’s a bit bittersweet,” Caisse, 82, said. “I am filled with emotion.”
He has been director of MIMO for 15 years. Before that, he taught dance in Massachusetts for nearly half a century. “I thought I had retired when I came to The Villages, but then Music In Motion came along.
“I like working with these people; we really are like family,” Caisse added. “It’s a great group. We are always there for each other.

Jim Caisse, center rehearsing in 2017 with the Music In Motion dancers

Caisse was considering leaving the group a few years ago, but the Covid virus hit.
“I thought about it before Covid, but then the virus came and I decided to wait,” Caisse said. The virus hit close to home when Caisse’s wife, Ann, was infected and fell critically ill. “It was awful, we almost lost her,” he said. “After that, I felt like I needed to spend more time with her and my family.”
Jim and Ann Caisse have been married for 60 years. “Ann has made so many sacrifices for me; I wanted to spend the time I had left with her.

Jim Caisse and Karen Bouffard typing on “My Lucky Star”.

Now, as Caisse prepares for his final show as Music In Motion’s manager, he recalls joining the band in 2007.
“The first time, I came to give a dance lesson, they loved it, but I told them that I expected more. I told them I would really challenge them as dancers and it would be a lot of hard work. They told me, yes, they wanted to be challenged.

Music In Motion has presented some of the most entertaining and polished shows at The Villages over the past 15 years.

Dancers and choreographers such as Dianne Bolton, Karen Bouffard, Barbara Byers, Vicky Magee, Jill Brewer, Patti Card, Paige Fleming, Jo Gagne, Sue Burton, Cheryl Hardeman, Kristin Miller and Kathy Chesley-Williams are part of what made the dance company so special.

“It’s unfair to target an individual, and I can’t do that,” Caisse said. “Everyone contributes to Music In Motion and everyone is part of our success.”
This success helped the dance company raise over $70,000 for charity. The group also performed as the opening act for an AARP national convention. Music In Motion also appeared during a halftime show for the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic.

The Caisse was the driving force behind this success.

“We have innovative and creative choreography and dazzling costumes, but Music In Motion is so much more than that,” said dancer Lynne Greenberger. “We are a tight-knit group of performers who work hard together to create the best show possible.
“This direction comes from our leadership – Jim Caisse. He instills in each of us a strong work ethic and a desire to continue developing our dance skills. It takes someone special to lead a successful band, and Jim is that person.
Vicky Magee accepted.
“In addition to his outstanding professional credentials, Jim has shown great patience and understanding over the years,” she said. “He continually raises the bar of choreography and training for our group. He knew how to get the best out of the dancers.

One of those dancers is her daughter, Melissa Carluccio, who helped choreograph the upcoming show.

Jim Caisse with his daughter Melissa, right, and granddaughter Kayla Luoma.

“For me, the best part is dancing with my dad,” she once told me. “It’s great to be there with him and it makes everything more meaningful.”

The Caisse’s latest show, “Tickets Please! is really a reminder. It premiered earlier this year, but Caisse points out that there are new acts and performers in this show.
“We had a great response, so we’re doing it again with some new stuff,” he said. The show features dance numbers from around the world. The list includes music and dance from venues such as the London Palladium, Radio City Music Hall, Moulin Rouge, Grand Ole Opry and Carnegie Hall.

Singers include Billie Thatcher, Bob Stehman, Jeri Lynne Fraser, Janet Maloney, Bonnie Williams and Barbara Hanberry.

Dancing was a family affair for Jim Caisse in 2017. Pictured with him, from left, is his daughter Melissa Carluccio, wife Ann and granddaughter Kayla Luoma.

A special patriotic tribute to veterans will feature the following villagers who served: Bill Ward, Marines; Greg Peters, Army; Tom Gibboney, Coast Guard; Lisa Vanderbloeme, Marine and Bob Welcome, Air Force.
“They told me they couldn’t dance, but I told them they didn’t have to dance; we just want to salute their service,” Caisse said.

After a break, Caisse – who hopes to continue teaching dance at the Wildwood Community Center – summed up her feelings about her time with Music In Motion.
“My deepest gratitude to the residents of The Villages and surrounding areas for their support over the past 15 years.
“It was a pleasure for me to have entertained you all. I look forward to my final curtain on September 13th. Then I will pass the torch to the next generation of Music In Motion.

Tony Violanti covers arts and music for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into the Buffalo NY Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.

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