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100-year-old dance teacher shares longevity tips: Exercise, olive oil, optimism

"You keep going, that’s what keeps me alive," she said. "The minute you stop moving, that's the end.”
Born on June 8, 1919, Georgia Deane is the founder of The Deane School of Dance in Mendon, Massachusetts. She's still teaching classes today.
Born on June 8, 1919, Georgia Deane is the founder of The Deane School of Dance in Mendon, Massachusetts. She's still teaching classes today.Courtesy of Georgia Deane
/ Source: TODAY

At age 100, Georgia Deane has a busy schedule running a business and teaching dance. But she’s willing to marry again.

She has survived breast cancer, outlived three husbands and opened her own dance studio at 57 when retirement became “so boring.” She’s still teaching classes today and credits constant movement for her longevity.

“You have to exercise until you can’t move anymore. As far as I’m concerned, you never stop. If you never stop, then you have a very good chance to keep going,” Deane, founder of the Deane School of Dance in Mendon, Massachusetts, told TODAY.

“I’m 100 and I can still do what I do, why should I retire? You keep going, that’s what keeps me alive... the minute you stop moving, that's the end.”

Centenarian dancers seem to be having a moment. When TODAY recently profiled Henry Danton, a 100-year-old ballet teacher in Mississippi, a reader pointed out Deane’s similar incredible longevity.

Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Deane was born on June 8, 1919, started dancing at 4 and performing at 13. After college, she toured the country with her sisters, performing in nightclubs and other venues.

Her second husband brought her to Mendon, Massachusetts, where she was planning to retire, but opened her dance school in 1976 when she grew bored. She’s been running it ever since. The studio is downstairs in Deane’s house; she resides upstairs. Her son lives with her on the 40-acre property.

In her early years, Deane studied dance, voice, violin, piano, and guitar. She was also an aspiring actress.
In her early years, Deane studied dance, voice, violin, piano, and guitar. She was also an aspiring actress.Courtesy of Georgia Deane

Here are the factors she credits for her longevity:


Deane’s philosophy is to eat everything in small amounts, calling herself “not a vegetarian, [but] an eatotarian.”

She’s a firm believer in two foods in particular.

“If you eat a lot of olive oil and garlic, you probably live forever,” she said. “Garlic kills all the germs and the oil keeps your joints moving.”

Deane likes eating small meals every couple of hours, avoiding consuming a lot at once. She usually skips dessert: “I used to like a lot of sweets, but as I reached a stage of maturity and wisdom, I don’t have a taste for the sweets as much,” she said. The key is to be sensible and know your body, added.

She grew up having an occasional glass of wine with dinner, but now limits her alcohol intake to once a year: She likes to have a sip of Captain Morgan rum on her birthday, she said.

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Deane moves every day, starting with stretches in her bed in the morning, followed by a series of exercises that include a whole jazz warm-up. Then, it’s time to go to the studio and teach dance.

She believes everyone should take ballet to get the foundation of movement. She personally loves jazz dance.

The great-grandmother thinks anybody can live a long life as long as they keep moving.

Positive outlook on life:

Deane has had plenty of moments of heartbreak and stress. She married at 25, 54 and 83, outliving each husband and becoming a widow three times.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 75, undergoing surgery to remove part of her breast. The illness never returned.

Despite life’s hardships, Deane remains a huge optimist.

“I always try to think the best of everybody and look forward to the good times. I don’t dwell on anything else,” she said. “I never complain because it doesn’t do any good. I always think positive.”


Deane is a voracious reader, going through three books a week, which she believes keeps her brain sharp. She particularly loves autobiographies, listing those by Catherine Hepburn, Michelle Obama and Tony Bennett as her favorites.

She loves her iPad, using it to keep up with news, Facebook and play Words With Friends.

Georgia Deane is still dancing at 100.
Deane credits reading for helping to keep her brain healthy.Courtesy Georgia Deane

The centenarian smoked once in her life at 12 and “almost choked to death,” so she never touched cigarettes again.

When it comes to love, Deane insisted on knowing her three husbands for at least two years before marrying them and always established a warm friendship first.

“I don’t believe in divorce,” she said. “After the hoopla is over, you better be friends. I was friends with my husbands before I married them and I knew they were good.

“I’m looking for a fourth, do you know anybody?”