Dance studio owner to take final bow

April 21, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Fifty-three years spent in the art of dance comes to a close in June when Beckie Sariano turns her dance studio over to Barbara Hickman and her daughter, Allison.

Sariano, 57, who has owned Beckie's Dance Studio at 44 E. Main St. for 28 years, said she will join the ranks of the retired.

She plans to "do some traveling," but doesn't think dancing will ever become a thing of the past in her life.


"I'll probably do a little freelance choreography," she said. "I don't think I'll ever really be totally out of it."

Sariano, like most of the hundreds of students she has taught over the years, started dancing when she was 4 years old.

"I've been dancing since I was a child, but never professionally. At 4 feet 11 inches tall, I was too short for any serious career in dancing," she said. "I did everything - ballet, jazz, tap, but nobody hires a professional dancer at my height. Dancing was something I really loved. I knew I would never be a professional so I decided to go into the teaching end of it."

The studio teaches ballet, jazz and modern dance along with creative movement and dance fundamentals.

Her studio was never geared to developing students for professional careers, she said.

"This is just for enjoyment. A child who is career-driven will dance in several studios. The majority of my students come here because they just enjoy dancing," Sariano said.

"Speaking for myself and other studios, I would have to say that only a small percentage of students go on to professional careers," she said. "A few go on to teach, but mostly part time."

One of her students, Katrina Yaukey, formerly of Waynesboro, does make her living as a professional dancer. She performs on Broadway and tours with professional theater groups.

Dancing is an important activity, Sariano said. It not only teaches balance, discipline and coordination, it also introduces students to a wide range of music - classical, jazz, pop, even ethnic - that they wouldn't normally listen to, she said.

Many students drop out of dance classes when they reach the eighth and ninth grades, Sariano said.

"They start to get busy with sports," she said.

There are exceptions. Her class of 2004 had five high school seniors who began as tots.

Sariano said she will miss her students.

"That's going to be the biggest thing. I love these kids. They're like family," she said.

It's the business end of the dance studio that helped her to decide it was time to move on.

"All those reports, the red tape, the bookkeeping, it was of no interest to me," she said.

Barbara Hickman, 53, of Waynesboro, said she took dance lessons briefly in the YMCA as a child, but never developed an interest in it.

Hickman said she's buying the studio with her daughter, Allison, 23, who started dancing at age 3. She was a student at Sariano's studio through while in grades 7 through 12. Dancing is still an important avocation today even as Allison Hickman has become a full-time medical student at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, her mother said.

"Allison and I have always been very involved with her dancing," Hickman said. "It's something we've always shared. It's been part of my life."

She and her daughter decided to take over Beckie's Dance Studio "because we feel it's really important to provide dancing to children in this community. Dancing with its discipline and coordination is at the center of everything a child does," she said.

Sariano said her final recital will be June 12. The Hickmans take over the business with new classes in September.

Three of Sariano's four teachers will work for the new owners. Hickman said her daughter will use her many contacts in dancing to recruit teachers and develop classes.

Barbara Hickman said she will handle the bookkeeping and teach beginning classes.

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