The lights in the theater slowly fade while the audience hushes in anticipation. They can hear the gentle clacks of tap shoes filling the stage. Up go the lights. But this stage isn’t filled with little girls in ringlets and their mom’s mascara. There stand 20 women, ages spanning from 24 to 81 years old, strong, beautiful and proud, and the beat begins.
“No ‘mama’s little darlin’s’ here,” laughed Pat Balderas, co-owner of Off Broadway Dance Company. “We’re the stars! I don’t want to be a filler for the kids in the show, I want to be the show!”
Off Broadway Dance Company (OBDC) is an adult-only tap dance studio. It has been part of the Toledo area for more than eight years, though it’s roots go back almost 35 years. The company has lived on through multiple owners, taking on different names and refining it’s identity. It was the owner before Balderas and Co-Owner Sally Standish that chose to make the move to become an adult-only studio.
“Even though more money could have been made (keeping children’s classes), there was a need for a place for adults to be. We needed our own space!” Balderas said.
She added OBDC is likely the only adult-only dance studio in the area.
Amy Ritter, 31, of Monclova, joined for that exact reason. After college she was looking for an activity outside of work but was not interested in dancing with children. She found the studio by chance and has stayed for almost 9 years.
“The thing that has kept me there the most is Pat’s teaching style,” Ritter said. “Everybody gets to give input and the music is always different. Her love for dance radiates through the whole class.”
Currently the studio has about 45 dancers, spanning seven decades in age, and multiple teachers. Classes are designed by experience level.
Nadine Seeman, 64, of Sylvania, danced her entire youth, including being a University of Toledo Dancing Rockette. Life, marriage and children pressed pause on her dance career but she returned in her 50’s and hasn’t stopped.
“I missed it,” Seeman said. “I wanted the physical exercise that comes with dancing and I just thought it would be fun to get back into it again.”
She added, after trying out other adult classes in the area, she liked how OBDC provided more challenge for the students interested.