BRIARCLIFF, N.Y. -- When Barbara Antes, the owner of a dance studio in Briarcliff, dances a salsa at a certain beauty pageant this spring, she will not only be proving that age is just a number, she will be kicking up her heels for a cause.
The lifelong Westchester resident and former nurse is one of 12 finalists who were chosen from a field of 300 hopefuls for the Ms. New York Senior America competition set for April 2 on Long Island.
The pageant is run by a nonprofit group that, its website says, strives to “engage in programs and activities that dispel the myths of aging by enhancing the lives of senior Americans.”
Pageant participants must be 60 and older. They compete in several areas, including ballgown, philosophy of life, and talent.
Antes, the owner of Westchester Ballroom on North State Road, is, naturally, going to dance for the talent portion.
The Pleasantville resident decided to enter the contest after a friend, who had already been in the pageant, suggested that she’d be perfect for it.
“She said: ‘Barbara! Their mission is your mission! You should go for it,’” Antes said Wednesday.
Antes said she believes that dancing is not only an art and a fun and healthy way to exercise for folks of any age, it also is a balm for the spirit, helping to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
Dance therapy classes at Antes’s studio are offered to seniors and others needing help with strength, flexibility, and movement issues.
The single mom of two grown sons, Antes supports many local causes. She also was vice president of the Pleasantville Chamber of Commerce and is very involved in the arts in Westchester.
The dance studio is frequently the scene of fundraisers for community organizations such as the SPCA and the Westchester Association of Retarded Citizens.
Antes recently participated in a 1920’s-themed “up the river” cruise to raise money for the proposed museum at the notorious Sing Sing prison in Ossining.
She will be wearing both a blue and a black gown that she found in a Katonah shop. And, of course, a very sexy number for her “New York-style salsa” dance.
Antes said she has the confidence and elegance to snag the crown.
“I’m a contender,” she added, without blushing.
If crowned the “queen,” Antes will be making appearances and helping to raise funding for the senior issues advanced by the Ms. New York Senior America organization. Then she will go on to compete on the national level this fall in Atlantic City, a "really big deal" event that Antes says draws thousands of people.
The current "queen" is Dolores Hofman of Island Park. Hofman worked for 23 years with Pan American World Airways. She was the first woman to drive a forklift and unload trucks at Kennedy Airport and now is a program manager at the Queens Air Services Development Office.
The pageant takes place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 2, at SUNY at Old Westbury in Old Westbury.
Tickets to the public event are $25 and can be ordered by calling Dolores Meglio at (631) 249-0258, or Kathi Keating, at (516) 868-5192.