A few years ago, I met Maryjo, or as everyone calls her MJ, when we were both students in Ruth Doering’s tap dance class. I’d taken some tap before in college, many moons ago, but let’s just say with my clunky, slow moves I was classified as a beginner. But that’s okay. I just wanted to dust off my old tap shoes, have fun and get a good work out.
My classmate MJ was another story. It was easy to tell that the dancer on the other side of the dance studio, the one with the curly red hair, was no beginner like me. MJ’s feet flew with style and grace, her taps clear and loud and right on time. (Ruth generously accepted all levels in her class, so I never felt unwelcome.)
I soon learned that MJ had an impressive dance background. Her bio is on the Dance Fusion web page but briefly…that girl spent a lot of time in the dance studio. And it shows. She began tapping her feet when she was five years old and donned a tutu, jazz shoes and even busted some moves doing hip hop in her years studying dance.
Her passion for dance, led her from her home in Buffalo, New York to the Big Apple to study in New York City at the Broadway Dance Center. Just the word Broadway conjures up images of professionalism, talent and skill. And MJ fits that bill. There’s more so check out her bio.
Her move to Arizona in 2012 was an opportunity for her to teach at various dance studios in Phoenix. We were once classmates together, but then I became her student when she started teaching at Dance Fusion. Lucky me! Right away I looked forward to taking her class as I had seen her talent when we danced together for Ruth.
Since then, I’ve taken MJ’s tap and jazz class. Okay I’m still not the best, but I have fun. I’m never too intimidated to lace up my tap shoes and at least try to move my feet and arms in a coordinated manner. Why? Because MJ is always willing to teach people of all levels, choreographing the routines and patiently repeating the steps until students understand. Sometimes I need a lot of repeating to make my feet move correctly. She never minds.
For those of you with more expertise, she teaches both an Intermediate Level Tap as well as Jazz class. This keeps it interesting and challenging for all levels of students.
Her routines are fun and creative, and I always enjoy myself and feel accepted and want to return. There is one requirement. Be willing to have fun moving to a wide range of music, from classic to funky and everything in between.
For dancers who want to perform, to strut their dancing style on stage, MJ is the director of Tap Fusion which is Dance Fusion’s tap performance troupe. The troupe has dancers of various skill levels. When they perform they all look as if they are having such a grand time. Don’t get me wrong. Of course, it’s work and a commitment to learn routines and perform, but for those who love to dance it’s a pleasure like no other.
I think MJ’s current students, and her future ones, will agree having her as a teacher is a pleasure, as well. Check out her schedule and then check out her class. And you might see me, I’m the one moving, not perfectly, but dancing just the same and that’s all that matters.