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‘Mambo Diane’ makes her way to world competition

Date: 10/24/2013

Molly O’Neil

LONGMEADOW – Diane Saia, a.k.a. “Mambo Diane,” hasn’t let the stigma of “old age” prevent her lifelong love of dance.

Saia and her dance partner, Gunnar Sverrisson, took sixth place in the 2013 United States Dance Championships earlier this year. She also received third place in International Waltz.

“I get goose bumps [thinking] about it,” Saia recalled of when they announced the finalists.

The awards that Saia received were for the seniors’ division of the United States Dance Championships, but she believes that age doesn’t matter and “it’s the quality of the dance that’s really important.”

“I have been 38 forever,” she added.

As a finalist in the United States Dance Championships, Saia is automatically in the World Dance Championships in Ohio. The World Dance Championships aren’t all about the age of the dancers, because they range from children to seniors.

When asked how she feels about these competitions, she replied, “I’m honored to be in the presence of these great dancers.”

Preparing for the dance competitions is all about practice for Saia.

Even when Saia isn’t moving, she said, “I’m dancing all the time in my head, and it’s the most beautiful place in the world to be.”

Saia’s ultimate dancing goal comes from a time when she was younger, back to the start of “Mambo Diane.” One of the experiences that she had with a former dance partner has imprinted in her mind. “Our partnership danced in such synch that we were the breath of the music,” she said. With no hesitation, Saia concluded, “My goal is that I want to be there again.”

For the next competition, Saia is motivated by her dancing goal. She looked at what she’s done and what she’ll do, and concluded, “I’ve got the energy, the stamina, and I’m able to do this.”

Despite all of her accomplishments, Saia still views herself as a “normal person in terms of today’s older woman.”

Saia emphasized what she always tells her grandchildren, “that minute, that moment, that now is amazing.”