Marcia Sarosik has taught dance to the children and teenagers of South Lake Tahoe for the past 30 years. Last weekend, she celebrated the anniversary with her 30th recital in the Harrah’s Theater. From the tiny pirouettes of the preschoolers to the click-clack of the teenage tap dancers and the groovy moves of the annual dads’ dance, everyone in the cast appeared to have caught Sarosik’s infectious love of the art.
Her career, which began in the tiny downstairs room of a preschool, has had its ups and downs — but mostly ups, she says. The dance world has changed and she’s had to change with it. But one thing has always stayed the same. She loves to dance. Sarosik took a few minutes to talk to Lake Tahoe Action about doing what she loves.
Q: How many kids were in this last show?
Sarosik: The cast is about 175, not counting the dads because they’re just a genre unto themselves. My shows are divided so the young kids do two shows. And the preschoolers do one show. We have four shows in all.
Q: How do you approach teaching dance?
Sarosik: I have a degree in education. I’m all about developing curriculum and making sure that kids learn what’s appropriate for their age and that they continue to develop as they learn to dance.
Q: What was it like when you first started teaching dance in South Lake Tahoe?
Sarosik: In the early 80s, before we even opened up the studio, I taught at the rec center. The rec center had had their teacher flake on them. All of a sudden the class was supposed to start and there was no teacher.
Later, I met Mark and Stacy Romagnolo and they had a preschool with this little tiny room down below. It was the scariest investment my husband and I ever made, putting a little sprung floor in. It felt like we were taking this big risk.
I started with about 50 kids. The next year we doubled. Then we put mirrors up there. At one time, I was teaching at Under the Magic Pine Tree, the old fitness center, the college and that’s how we kept building. I would find places to teach and the kids just kept coming.
Q: I think the group that illustrates that the most are the dads that dance each year at your recital. Can you tell me about the dads’ dance?
Sarosik: The dads. Oh, the dads. They’re special. It started 19 or 20 years ago. I was at a dance workshop and someone said they had tried a dads and daughters dance. The first time we tried it there was maybe 20 dads. We didn’t do it for a couple years, but the next time we did it, it doubled.
I think around 10 years ago we were up to 30 or 40 dads and it became an every year thing. We start in the beginning of March and we meet every Sunday. I always try to think of a really good theme.
One of the dads that danced with his senior daughter this year has been doing it since I started doing it every year. What I say to dads is if their teenage daughter wants to dance with them, how much cooler can life get? I’ve had dads already come up to me with ideas for next year.
They’re great. They can be just as silly and noisy as a bunch of kids. The first week they’re all quiet as can be, but then they get to be friends. I am almost positive I have the largest dad-daughter classes in the country.
Q: How has dance changed in the last three decades?
Sarosik: Hip-hop, which many people said was going to be a fad, is definitely not a fad. It’s for real. Contemporary dance has taken ballet modern and lyrical and combined them into these provocative, make-your-brain-think pieces. That’s pretty cool.
The other thing that I think has changes is the envelope. Thirty years ago, if a kid did a double turn, it was like “Wow!” Now, you have to do four. The level of what kids do now is far more difficult.
But the bottom line remains. When you go to an audition, you have to have that love of dance. Everybody can kick high. Everybody can turn. Everybody is amazing. So what makes you get the job? It’s something that comes from inside. And that’s remained the same forever and ever.
Q: Are there any memories that really stick out from the last 30 years?
Sarosik: I feel every year has its own set of highlights and its own set of memories. For me, a lot of the fun is now that I have grown students is finding out what they’re doing and remembering the good times from their years. It’s kind of an endless set of memories.
One year I had a girl with Down syndrome and her and I went out on stage and did the dance together. She was a little older and she needed that little extra. That’s just all part of it. I’ve had kids break their leg a week before the show and we found things for them to do on crutches.
Every group of kids is equally special and important. They’re not the same, but they all bring something to the table. Every year is another great set of memories.
Q: Do you think you’ll ever retire?
Sarosik: I plan on another few zillion years of this. I really do. My husband says I’ll die with my tap shoes on. He goes, “Marcia doesn’t believe in retirement.”