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Dance Schools

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

Dance classes and recitals for the boys and girls of Millinocket have been around for many years. M. Dana Small came to town in the 1930’s and taught ballet, tap and clogging. Joseph McCluskey offered dance classes in the 1950’s. In the 1970’s, the dance teacher was Lorraine Shippee. For the past several years, one of Shippee’s students, Sandy (Hughes) Hartley, has been teaching students at her Studio One Dance & Acrobatic Center.

The museum was recently donated a program, a recital costume and some photos from the Joseph McCluskey School of Dance recital in May of 1951. The donations were from Patty (McConnell) Tait and Linda (LePage) Boyd. The recital took place at the Millinocket Theater and featured 35 different group and solo performances. The accompanist was Mrs. Dorothy Montgomery. The final performance of the night was by Joseph McCluskey himself.

A 1936 program in the collection is for the 2nd annual dance recital presented by M. Dana Small and his pupils. Performances by several different “classes” are listed as well as solos and duets. Miss Cynthia Dunham (age 3) performed “My First Ballet” and 3-year-old Marjorie Coffin performed as “A Miniature Tapper.” More than 60 dancers took part in this recital. All names appear in the program.

A second recital program from the McCluskey School of Dance (probably 1950’s similar to one mentioned above) had performance numbers titled “Hokey Pokey,” “A Baby Ballet,” and “Eight Medley Belles.” Master of ceremonies was Al Cummings and pianist was Charlene Ouellette. This program and others mentioned all contains ads from local businesses as sponsors of the recitals.

The final program in the collection is titled Dance & Tumbling Recital presented by the students of Lorraine Shippee in June of 1977 at Stearns HS. The event consisted of several Broadway dance numbers, two ballet class performances, and a series called “A Toy Story.” The entire cast appeared in the finale.

Drop in at the museum to share your stories of dance performances and other activities of your childhood in Millinocket! Do you have programs and/or photos from dance recitals or other memories of growing up in the Magic City? We accept donations of many types of items and originals, copies or scans of photos!

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