Wednesday, March 24, 2010


92nd Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Dance! Did you take dance lessons as a child? Did your parents go out dancing every Friday at the Elks Hall? Do you enjoy taking in a good ballet at the theater? Care to share a memory from your high school prom? What role does dancing play in your family history? Come on, let's cut a rug! 

Did I take dance lessons as a child? Why, yes I did.

"Mrs. Cooper's School of Dance" sounds like it would be in a lovely dance studio with walls of mirrors and bars, the whole works, doesn't it? It wasn't. At least, the space she used for a studio in Mt. Vernon wasn't. Mrs. Cooper came from Danville once a week to give tap and ballet lessons in Mt. Vernon at the Fire Station - in the garage, right beside of the big red fire truck. She made the 35 mile trip each week on the Greyhound bus, bringing her portable record player and records with her.

I was about 5 years old when I started the lessons in the 1st year Mrs. Cooper came to Mt. Vernon. I took lessons for two years, possibly three. I can remember standing in a line beside of that fire truck with several of my friends learning the steps. I can remember that, when we finished, the next class of "older" girls had toe shoes and we all wanted toe shoes too. (Just so you know, you can't stand on your toes in regular ballet shoes. Trust me, we tried.) I remember our dance recitals which were held at the Renfro Valley Barn. I remember being backstage at the Barn waiting to go on stage and then dancing on what seemed like a very high stage. I remember the costumes and shoes, especially the tap shoes. (Since I couldn't stand on my toes in the ballet shoes, the tap shoes were my favorite).

Backstage at the Barn.
That's me, facing the camera with the baton over my head.
Don't ask me what a baton has to do with ballet.

Just for the fun of it, I googled Mrs. Cooper's School of Dance. I was surprised to discover that there is still today, more than 50 years after I took lessons, a Cooper School of Dance in Danville, Kentucky. I wonder if it's run by Mrs. Cooper's family - her children or maybe even her grandchildren.


  1. Great post and a great picture!

  2. I love the memories of dancing lessons --- and the picture with the batons is great. Although the guys look like they might have swords. Thanks for the memories.

  3. You and I had similar early dance experiences and you look as happy as I did in those early dance I am jealous were able to take tap.

  4. After reading your post, I decided to google my old instructor and amazingly he became a well known and respected choreographer, dancer and instructor for the United States International University in San Deigo, which focused on the Performing Arts. Very interesting and apparently he is still living. WOW Thanks for the idea of looking for him.