It was a magical run, something no one expected. Quin Bommelje, a 71-year-old ballroom dancer made it to the semifinals of the hit NBC-TV show “America’s Got Talent.” But fame is fleeting, and everything comes to an end. After the studio emptied and the lights went out, the Florida dancer figured her moment in the spotlight was over.
Bommelje was proud of her remarkable achievement, especially considering she took her first lesson just 10 years earlier. After a slow, difficult start, dance became her passion. Step-by-step her body became stronger, her mind became tougher, and she began to excel. The celebrity judges at “America’s Got Talent” watched in disbelief at her ability to defy age and awarded her the coveted Golden Buzzer, which is given to outstanding performances. A fan favorite, 17 million viewers voted week after week to keep Bommelje on the program.
When the season finally ended, much to her surprise the accolades did not.
“I am astounded that so many people keep reaching out,” she said. “I now have new friends and fans all over the globe,” and perhaps none more important than those in Thailand where she was born.
“I visited a few months after the show ended and was given an incredible welcome,” she said. “It was so special to me.”
You might expect that this storybook ending would have been the perfect time for Bommelje to hang up her dancing shoes and ease into a life of leisure, but she has not. Now 74, she is just as motivated and active as ever.
“I have a saying that I follow: ‘When things are going well, work harder!’”
Bommelje is expanding her dance repertoire by learning two new styles: international Latin and cabaret.
“Cabaret is an acrobatic form of dance that includes many dangerous lifts and spins,” she said. “I’m working with two incredible partners, and we will be competing in the U.S. Dance Championships in September.”
Bommelje continues to shatter many misconceptions about aging. She is an inspiration to many because her success at this stage of life has come not just from genetics but from hard work, meaning it is possible for anyone.
“My typical day is very different from my friends my age,” she said. “I get up most mornings at 4:30 a.m. to pray, meditate and study. I juice fresh vegetables and ginger, eat a tiny bit of oatmeal and drink hot green tea. I grow most of my own vegetables. I love to garden. Four days a week I either go to the dance studio or the gym. In addition, I run 2.5 miles on the trail and spend an hour stretching.”
And on those mornings where she just doesn’t feel like getting up?
“I know to accomplish my goals I can’t lay off,” she said. “That’s when the magic happens. Because once I walk through the gym door, it all goes away, and I can’t wait to work out. You just can’t give in because where the mind goes the body follows.”
Most people at 74 spend their time looking back. Bommelje’s eyes are squarely on the future.
“I want to find ways to have a positive impact on others,” she said. “I’m proof it’s never too late to find your passion. That will lead you to your purpose, and that is where you will find your power. At 74, I love my life and cannot get enough of it!”