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Senior Lifestyles

Longtime teacher puts spin on dance lessons

10/6/2011 - South Side Leader - By Joyce Rainey Long

An intermediate tap class practices at the Judy Cain Dance Studio.
Above: Judy Cain, at right, leads a class for the Tap Kats, a tap dancing show troupe. She also is shown at middle dancing.
Photos: Joyce Rainey Long
NEW FRANKLIN — Judy Cain has been teaching dance lessons one step at a time for the past 63 years.

“I was born dancing,” said Cain, owner of the Judy Cain Dance Studio, which is located in the Manchester Local School District Administration Building at 6075 Manchester Road in Room 24.

Cain, 71 and a resident of New Franklin, teaches adults tap, jazz, ballroom and line dancing to students at all levels, from beginners to advanced. She said she choreographs all of the dances she teaches.

“Dancing helps your whole body and keeps you healthier,” said Cain. “Dance helps with balance and flexibility and retards Alzheimer’s because you are using your mind with memorization and counting.”

Cain started teaching when she was 8 years old at a dance studio in Massillon that her mother, Martha Galvin-Fritz, a semi-professional dancer, owned for 32 years.

“I would start the warm-ups after school so my mother could have a break,” she recalled.

As a teenager, Cain danced with the Canton Players Guild and she appeared on local television shows. During her career, she danced in local and national commercials and had an exercise program on cable television.

Cain, the mother of four children, started her own studio in 1969 out of her New Franklin home.

“I didn’t stay in my house too long, and it blossomed from there,” said Cain, adding she had other studios in the Portage Lakes area before opening the studio in the Manchester Administration Building.

Along with teaching dance lessons, she organizes, teaches and performs with the Tap Kats, a tap dancing show troupe she started more than 12 years ago. The Tap Kats perform 30 to 50 shows a year dancing to nostalgic music and often performing at nursing homes wearing glittery costumes, according to Cain. The Tap Kats range in age from 20s to 70s, Cain said.

“Seniors can relate to the songs and they love the glitter,” she said. “We go in and make someone smile, and there’s an energy you can feel,” Cain said about the show troupe performing in nursing homes.

“Anyone can learn to dance at their level,” said Cain.

She said she teaches adults who danced as children and those who always wanted to dance but could not afford lessons when they were young. Classes are offered all year at reasonable rates and a variety of times, said Cain. Several family members take lessons together at her studio, and she even teaches three generations in some classes.

Many students said Cain is the reason they dance.

“Judy teaches better than anybody,” said Dana Kapper, of Canal Fulton, who has been a student of Cain’s since she was 3 years old.

“She relates to everyone and teaches at the perfect pace,” said Kapper, a member of Tap Kats.

“We’ve learned a lot of steps and dances, and it’s different all the time,” said Audrey Miller, of Akron, who has taken tap lessons with Cain for three years and danced as a child. “I love the music we dance to and we only go one speed — ‘fast.’”

Cherrie Portmann, of Green, has danced all her life, and she and her mother, Susan Manhart, of New Franklin, are in the Tap Kats. They have taken lessons together for 22 years.

“I grew up thinking everyone tap danced,” she said. “Judy is challenging and keeps us on our toes, but she keeps the dances fresh and current.”

Jim Elliott, of Cuyahoga Falls, is the only man in the intermediate tap class, where he dances along with his wife, Marianne, and 20 other women.

“I decided I wanted to learn something new, so I’m learning golf and tap dancing, and I’m getting better,” he said.

Marianne Elliott said she enjoys dancing with her husband, as well as the camaraderie and exercise the class offers.

“It’s a good time and it gives us more time together,” she said. “If I have aches and pains, they go away when I’m dancing with all the endorphins.”

Tap Kats member Pat Bosley, of Springfield, also feels the benefits of dancing.

“When I dance, I get away from all my troubles,” she said. “I just love dancing, and it’s in my blood. It’s a good exercise and helps strengthen my legs.”

“Once dance gets into your system, you can’t let go and it becomes addictive,” said Cain.

For more information on the Judy Cain Dance Studio, call 330-644-4144 or visit www.judycain.org.
 
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