Pickle Barrels & Tap Shoes

Victoria’s Story

The time was early October, 1974. I was in 3rd grade, living in Northern Iowa.  My  parents owned and operated an A&W restaurant where my 3 older brothers and I all worked.

This was the fall that charted my future. I was about to go on my first ever sleepover with a school friend.  It was a very exciting day! I packed and repacked my pajamas, pink fuzzy slippers and Ellie the elephant into my pillowcase suitcase.  I could hardly wait for that long day of 3rd grade to be over.

After school, Lisa Garlock, my roomie for the night, had dance class. She got permission for me to watch class. And that was it!  I wanted in!  I begged my mom, Agnes, to let me join.  She called Denny’s School of Dance, in Mason City, Iowa the next day and signed me up for tap and ballet classes. I was ecstatic.

In my first class, I learned first, fourth and fifth position, plies, tendus and a bunch of ballet basics.  Then it was time for tap. It was love at first sound!  Shuffles, flaps, ball changes and maxifords were my new obsession.

Denny told us at the end of class that we needed to practice our skills every day to truly improve.  So we brought our tape recorders (yes the whole recorder – not just a tape to put the music on:)  to class to record each skill. When I got home that night to our A&W, I went into the long storage room where I could tap, tap, tap away.  

But just doing the exercises wasn’t cutting it. So, I moved the 5-gallon barrels of pickles out onto the “dance floor” and “taught” them my exercises. That was the start of it.  From then on I knew I wanted to be a dance teacher and own my own dance studio.  While Victoria Dance Productions is celebrating it’s 30th season, it has been a legacy 48 years in the making!  And I owe it all to Lisa, the pickle barrels and those white tap shoes!