BY MAJA GAWRONSKA, MA
Meet This Month’s Successful Ager: Reina Bolles
“Life is like chapters in a book. We can't erase what has been already written, but the next pages in our book are blank. How do we want our story to unfold? We are the writers of our lives,” said Reina Bolles.
The sixty-three-year-old singer, choreographer and dance teacher is all about proving that beauty, talent, and passion do not fade with age. Ms. Bolles is the reigning Ms. Senior California. In October, she represented the Golden State at the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the annual pageant showcasing the grace and inner beauty of women who have reached “the age of elegance.”
An iconic San Diego educator and dancer, Ms. Bolles put her title to good use as an active advocate for arts education, helping schools direct more resources toward theater, music, and dance. Although some may regard art education as a luxury, Ms. Bolles is a firm believer that creative activities are important building blocks of the next generation of children as they grow up.
“There is a link between art and other achievements,” she said.
For more than twenty-five years, Ms. Bolles devoted her life to performing and teaching musical theater in Southern California. Together with her husband of thirty-seven years, Ron Bolles, she directed and choreographed the Music Machine, Bonita Vista High School’s award-winning show choir. The group toured all over the United States and visited seventeen countries on four continents on cultural exchange tours.
"My favorite part of this experience is not that we taught singing and dancing and got to travel the world, but that we were able to watch these high school kids become fabulous citizens,” she said.
In 2011 the couple published “Learning That Lasts a Lifetime”—a collection of backstories, anecdotes, and lessons learned by students involved in the choir, one of the oldest on the West Coast. Described as a mash-up of “Glee” and “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” the book clearly shows that an experience in performing arts leads to fulfilled lives and successful careers.
Ms. Bolles preaches what she teaches. “My first love was dance,” she said.
She started dancing when she was four years old, learned to play piccolo in second grade, staged her first play in fifth grade, and began choreographing in high school. After graduating from United States International University School of Performing Arts as a dancer/singer, she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked with Rhonda Fleming, Karl Malden, and Cathy Rigby; danced in “Kismet” at the L.A. Music Center; and was an extra in television and movies.
Most recently, she created the San Diego Follies Touring Company, which performed at retirement communities and local civic organizations.
"My passion is to empower older adults to transform their lives through the performing arts and a healthy lifestyle,” said Ms. Bolles, who has performed in more then fifty senior homes in San Diego County.
Ms. Bolles is not one to back away from challenge. She underwent two hip replacement surgeries and suffered two episodes of depression.
“Luckily, I have my faith, my family and friends, love, laughter, joy, and service to provide an abundance of blessings along roads I traveled through life,” she said. “My greatest blessings are my family; husband, Ron: two daughters and their husbands; and 4.5 grandchildren.”
For successful aging, Ms. Bolles believes that staying active, vital, and connected to life is key. “Live life and enjoy every minute of it!,” she said.
She also believes that music and dance are very beneficial to physical, cognitive and psychological health. And finally, she said, ”There is no heart without ART!”
Learn more about the Ms. Senior American Pageant at http://www.mssrcalifornia.com
Learn more about Ms. Bolles at http://bollesartsinternational.com