Norma Cooper began studying the rudiments of classical ballet in a small town in New York when she was 7-years-old. By the time she was 14, she realized she had learned more about dance than anyone else in her small town and opened her first dance studio.
That was, "I hate to tell you, close to 60 years ago," laughs Cooper, who came to Alaska from Buffalo New York in 1989. She opened North Star Dance Studio that year and has been continuing to teach traditional dance to young people ever since.
Cooper studied with Jack Stanley in New York, and performed with the Canadian National Ballet. Last year she opened her second studio in Soldotna at the Superstructures Building.
"We found that many people were interested in traditional dance to a point, but did not want to make the trip out to Sterling, and that they respond to the opportunity better with an in town location," said Cooper. North Star Dance Studios now has some 150 students that range in age from 3 to 69 years young. "Dance is a challenge, and young people like a challenge, dance is not an easy thing to do, it takes a great deal of discipline and a lot of work," says Cooper, who still glides across a dance floor with the grace and ease of a dancer preparing to perform Swan Lake. "I talk about retiring but it never gets anywhere, and personally I really can't see myself not teaching," said Cooper.
Her class schedule parallels the school year with a few weeks off before starting a summer session. Some of Cooper's students will be performing at the SoHi annual dance show next month and North Star Dance features an annual recital each May with all the students. For more information call North Star Dance at 262-5554.
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