Doris Humphries, 93, has been dancing since childhood. She used to nail bottles caps to the soles of her shoes, so she can hear herself when she tried to do tap routines she saw in movies.
“It is just something I love, and I get into it. I just feel the rhythm and I love to see a person getting the dances and loving the dances,” Humphries said.
For years, Humphries worked in outreach programs and in 1985 she got a grant from the city and opened a theater workshop, The Closet Performers, for anyone who has passion for dancing and singing.
“I just love teaching the music, teaching the dancing listening to music, love the beautiful music rhythm,” Humphries said.
Humphries started dancing around the house and in high school. At the age of 15 she met her dance partner. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
Humphries worked with children at different organizations, like Better Boys Foundation that is for kids who didn’t have a lot of money or access to different things. She said her love to dancing, music and passion to teaching is strong especially when she is working with children. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
Her daughter Kathleen Humphries-Grannum, on the right, drives her to the gallery every week. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
“I don’t know how else to describe it, but when you every now and then come across a person who you see why they were put here on this planet, you can see it because everything about them is about what they do and what they were put here to do. My mother this is who she is,” Humphries’ daughter said. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
Humphries was part of a national program called Having a Ball. She taught children in Chicago Public Schools where they did competitions between schools who were part of this national initiative. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
She won countless awards including lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Music Awards in 2018. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
She is inducted into the City of Chicago’s Senior Citizen Hall of Fame. Humphries also appeared along with her dance partner as featured acts in the movie Swing Parade of 1946. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
Until this day Humphries would run into adults who still remember the experience when she taught them as kids in the community workshop. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
“She is not a person who loves to dance, she is a person who has to dance. It is as much in her DNA and in the fibers of her muscles,” Humphries’ daughter said. (Loumay Alesali/Medill Reports)
Photo at top: Humphries started teaching tap and ballroom classes at Dance Gallery Chicago five years ago. (Loumay Alesali/MEDILL)