Questions about Paddy’s Dance Life

Friends and guests at my book talks often ask me questions about my dance life. Here are a few answers.

When did you start dancing?  At age 3. I continued to take lessons until I was 18 and danced off and on until I was in my 40s. I was never a professional dancer.

Which dance teachers were most inspiring? I only had 3 teachers across all the years I danced. Each influenced me in big or small ways: Margaret Tapping gave me the first opportunity to perform. I was 3 and loved being on the stage with the light shining on our group. Delphaine Fleener, my second teacher, brought out my gracefulness. Her kindness and her clam temperament will always be remembered.  Margie Speck taught me from age 7 until I stopped taking lessons. She exposed me to a variety of dance forms, took our teen classes to Seattle to watch professional ballet companies and provided us with a variety of venues in which to perform. All the dancing in from of small to large crowds made it easy for me to stand before any group to speak or dance.

What was your favorite style of dancing?

My favorite dance genre changed across the years. When I was little I loved the clink of tap shoes taps on the floor. As I grew older I began to enjoy the gracefulness of ballet. When character dance classes became available, I enjoy the variety of movements each presented. I also enjoyed learning more complex tap routines. As a teen , the beauty of ballet and the associated music won me over. I was too tall and not nearly flexible enough to become a professional dancer. And, once I read about how difficult it was to become a professional dancer, I knew I lacked the talent and drive to ever attempt it as a career.

Did you have a favorite role you danced?

I have several dances or roles aI loved. In tap I loved the Danny Hoctor dances because they were rapid and complex. In character dancing, I loved the oddball dances and associated costumes for the Pussy Cat Parade, Rock Around the Clock, the Can Can, and Shotgun Boogey. In jazz I loved Peter Gunn’s music since it gave me room for self expression.

My all-time favorite role was dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and in particular the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Margie taught us the traditional version which provided a cross-century connection to famous ballet dancers and sealed my love of ballet and classical ballet music.


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