Nancy Raddatz, 77, puts on her tap shoes on a Wednesday evening and merrily guides a class of nine adult students to Michael Buble’s joyous tune, “It’s a Beautiful Day.” This is her 65th year teaching dance. “It is fun,” Raddatz said. “It is still fun.”
The Pioneer Press reports that the tap dancers at the West St. Paul, Minnesota, studio named after Raddatz perfectly represent the long span of her career: five of the nine pupils are grandmothers who began dancing here when they were tots. Some of their children—and now their grandchildren—have also danced in this little pink room on Butler Avenue that one adult student described as “a magical land.”
Raddatz started dancing at age 3, and at age 12 began teaching dance to neighborhood kids for 25 cents. Then in 1952, at age 17, she was struck with polio. “It affected my arms and my legs,” Raddatz says. “When I was well enough to dance again, it was very painful, but my doctor said the reason I was able to regain normal use of my limbs was because I kept dancing.”
Sometime later, she dealt with a former student who lost the sight in both eyes. “He called me from the [University of Minnesota] and said, ‘I can’t dance anymore, I’m blind.’ I said, ‘What does that have to do with dance?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘I don’t know, either; let’s find out.’ ”
These experiences led Raddatz to found the Uniquely Abled Dance Center, which offers free classes and is run within her regular studio.
With all the changes at her studio and in the dance world over the years, one thing hasn’t changed: the way she feels about her job. “After 65 years, I can barely wait for the next class to start,” Raddatz says.
To see the full story, visit http://www.twincities.com/columnists/ci_24260378/dance-teacher-nancy-raddatz-still-going-strong-after.