Downtown Waukesha dance studio offers Middle East experience for all ages
Dancers range from teens to seniors, age 75
The Pat Kellar Dance Studio at 250 West Broadway in downtown Waukesha looks just where it belongs. From the street you can get a glimpse of a brightly lit studio where children take their first try at the ballet bar or teens lace up their tap shoes. On a Monday night, however, there's something a little different.
Instructor Theresa McAdams, with the slight hint of an English accent, begins to direct a diverse group of teens and adults. The class is Mid-East Belly Dancing and the participants represent a large span in age, but it's only by chatting with McAdams that you realize just how large.
McAdams, a resident of North Prairie, has been dancing with the Kellar Studio for 36 years but she didn't start as a child dancer. Instead, this 75-year-old instructor is proud to say she's almost 76 and is the most senior member of the Trisha Mid-East Dance Troupe.
Always a dancer
McAdams grew up in London, England, and worked in offices before meeting her husband and moving to the states 56 years ago. Together they lived in Milwaukee before moving to North Prairie about 26 years ago.
"I've always danced," McAdams said. "Ballet, jazz, tap and all of that. I took some time off to raise my kids but I just love music."
McAdams said that growing up in Europe, Irish dancing was a huge influence on her and it was "everywhere" when she was a child. After spending time raising her family, McAdams started with the Kellar Studio and quickly became a member of the Sandettes, a tap dance troupe at the time.
"Sandy Kellar was just a fantastic tap dancer and had been all over the world studying," McAdams said describing how her passion grew for dance over time.
While at the studio, McAdams was exposed to Mid-East traditional music and watched the calculated and patient movements of mid-east dancers and fell in love.
"I just love it and it keeps you young," McAdams said. "I'm 75 going on 76 and dancing just keeps you healthy. I also have very lovely students that I enjoy."
The Trisha Mid-East Dance Troupe is a group of women who perform traditional folkloric Mid-East style belly dancing with traditional choreography and full traditional costumes, both done by Pat Kellar. The group performs at the Holiday Folk Fair, Wisconsin State Fair and even was a part of the recent Governor's convention.
"The Trisha Troupe has performed all over Wisconsin," McAdams added. "It's all just an experience. We've performed many, many places."
McAdams became the eldest member of the troupe this year after a 90-year-old dancer finally hung up her costume.
"She had to leave because she was getting dizzy but she danced here for 20 some years," McAdams explained. "She's a very sweet lady and dance really kept her going."
McAdams teaches her students for about two years before they can audition for the professional troupe but she enjoys teaching because she says she is still constantly learning.
"In the beginning it's very challenging because you have to learn to isolate body movement but once you've got it it's mostly just exercise," McAdams said. "They should be excited to learn everything. You never stop learning in dance."
McAdams joked that her family isn't at every single performance, but all support her in doing something she enjoys. Although it's been years since she's had stage fright, she looks back almost fondly at those days that led her to now.
"I remember the first time I got on stage and there were no mirrors in front of me," McAdams says with a slight smile as she trails off.
At that moment, it's time to start dancing. The eight students in her class smile and file in for warm-ups.
For your info
For more information on Mid-East dance classes, dance instruction for children, or information on the Trisha Mid-East Dance Troupe visit www.patkellardance.com
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