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Dance school is Silverdale woman's dream come true | Q&A
Young girls and boys have been learning how to twirl and tap at Irene’s School of Dance for more than 30 years. Irene Miller always knew she wanted to open a dance school and now children as young as 4 and adults pushing 80 can dance with the best of them thanks to their education at the Silverdale dance school.
Miller recently welcomed us into her dance school to chat about her passion for dance, her family and the Dance Arts Theatre’s upcoming cross country trip.
Question: When did you first become interested in dance?
Answer: As a child — I started off with ballet mostly and I picked up on tap and jazz as a teenager.
Q: What styles of dance are taught at Irene’s School of Dance?
A: Ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, modern, baton, mommy and me, beginning through advanced from age 3 1/2 to adults to senior citizens. We’ve taught disco and ballroom. We might do ballroom this year if there was a call for it.
A: My husband, Don. He’s retired from the shipyard. My daughter Kim, she’s a mechanical engineer at Boeing, but her love is dance. She runs a school in Maple Valley similar to our Dance Arts Theatre. My daughter Rebecca, she graduated from the (University of Washington) with a degree in psychology.
Q: You said Kim likes to dance. Do both of your daughters dance?
A: They both dance, since they were 3. It just worked out really well. They came to the dance school with mom. They really enjoyed it, the social aspect and performing aspect. My husband was my partner in the disco classes, when we taught those here. He has really good rhythm because he was a drummer.
Q: When did you open Irene’s School of Dance?
A: 1975, we moved here. I started in the Boy Scout Hall and the Gilberton Community Center. I had a space in the back. You had to enter through the alley. I was in Old Town Silverdale until 1984 when we built this building. It makes me sound old.
Q: Why did you decide to teach dance?
A: When I was dancing, I was an assistant teacher and decided that I enjoyed the teaching aspect of it. I got a business degree from UW and I’m an accredited dance teacher with the Dance Masters of America. I learned a lot from my teacher and she inspired me that I would be good at it and I would enjoy it and be good at it.
Q: Was it difficult opening your own business?
A: It just kind of fell into place. It felt right. When we bought this piece of land it had an old house on it. The fire department burned it down as one of their exercises, so that was kind of exciting.
Q: What do you like the most about your job? The least?
A: Most — the diversity of it. Besides being a teacher, I also do everything else, lesson planning, organizing the performances, hiring the teachers. I do not get bored. The least — I suppose the hours because a lot of the classes have to be after school, but I’ve done it for so many years it’s just a way of life for me.
Q: What is one thing you want to try in your lifetime?
A: I have never been to Europe. I would love to go to Europe. I have one of my former students who lives in Germany and before she decides to come back I would love to go over and visit.
Q: What is the Dance Arts Theatre?
A: A nonprofit performing group and the girls have to audition to be in it. This summer we’re taking 29 of our dancers to Disney World to perform. We’ve been to Disneyland several times, but this is our first time to Disney World. Everyone’s really excited about it. This will be our first time not participating in Whaling Days this year because we’ll be gone.
Q: Have you had students go on to become professional dancers?
A: I’ve had several who have gone on to Cornish (College of the Arts), gone on to the dance program at UW. I have one student who’s in New York and is still trying for that big break.
Q: How does it make you feel knowing your former students are still pursuing dance?
A: If there was any way I inspired them to do things like that, I feel great about it. I have a lot of them who have gone on to become teachers. I always encourage them to get their college education so if the dance doesn’t work out, they’ll still have something to fall back on.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Silverdale?
A: It’s kind of small town, like what I grew up with in Wenatchee. It’s been fun watching Silverdale grow. When we built this place Walgreens wasn’t there — nothing. It’s nice to be able to go some place and recognize somebody.
Q: Do you think Kitsap County is a good place for fine arts?
A: It’s working on it. I’d still love to see a performing arts center here in Silverdale. Since we are in Silverdale, I’m a strong believer that you’d try to keep things in Silverdale, but we can’t. Since we draw from the central area, it’d be nice to have something here. I know they keep trying.