It Takes a Team to Tango
One of December’s coldest, snowiest days was no match for the sizzling steps and strong rhythm of tango dancers at Amberwood Court Care Center. Many enjoyed the performance, but the smoldering eyes of the Champion Dance Sports artists spoke only to one: Charlotte Dupree. And with each corte and la Cunita movement, the honoree was recalling her own dancing days.
“I took dancing lessons in 1994 after I retired and moved to Albuquerque,” Charlotte begins, pointing to the framed poster of herself and her dance partner. “We learned all the ballroom dances, but the tango was my favorite. It’s just a thrilling step to do. The music and passion just lift you up.”
The arts have been part of Charlotte’s life from the start. She was born in 1928 in the small Kansas community of Medicine Lodge, where her father was the railroad agent for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe line. Her younger years were spent in the equally tiny town of Avard, Oklahoma, a cattle-shipping depot surrounded by ranchland.
“In a little town, you make your own entertainment,” she adds. “Daddy and mother were both very musical, so that was ours. We always danced in our family. My brother Bill met a dancing teacher while in the Navy in World War II, then came home and taught me. We jitterbugged as much as we possibly could!”
Charlotte attended college in Enid, Oklahoma, majoring in music, and received a scholarship to pursue her masters at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She would marry and have three daughters—Toni, Tanya and Kimberly. Music would remain a highlight, as she taught piano and organ to private students and music theory at the community college level, all the time playing for church services.
Charlotte’s recent tango performance was orchestrated by her care team from The Denver Hospice. She’s been a Denver Hospice patient for the past year, dealing with the difficult symptoms related to congestive heart failure and stage-4 kidney disease. Her nurse Stacey set the plans in motion, believing the performance might bring some added energy to a patient she describes as “remarkable.”
Interestingly, that’s the same word Charlotte’s daughter uses when asked about their experience with The Denver Hospice. “I don’t know how anyone navigates through all this alone,” Tanya begins. “Even getting her into Amberwood was made possible because her hospice social worker Betty kept working to make it happen.” Charlotte’s transition from her own home to the care facility had became urgent over the busy Fourth of July weekend, and an immediate change was needed. “I was totally overwhelmed,” Tanya continues. “Betty was a Godsend…remarkable…bent over backwards to help all of us through it. And they continue to care for all of us, as a family.
“This team takes care of everything,” she says. “Having a Denver Hospice nurse seeing Mom once a week, I know her health care needs are being met. Their CNA comes in three times a week, so I know someone is checking on her on days I’m not there. She’s even taking French lessons with a wonderful woman named Liz who is one of their volunteers and comes weekly. They speak French and Mom has homework. She’s turned into a wonderful friend."
“None of this would have happened without The Denver Hospice.”