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The Dance Recitals

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!


            M. Dana Small, Joseph McCluskey, Lorraine Shippee, Veronica Carbonneau and Sandy Hartley are some who have taught hundreds of young Millinocket children the art of dance. At the end of each dance year (usually May or June), recitals were a common occurrence to show off the children’s newly learned skills. These included everything from ballet and tap to ballroom and clogging and soft shoe.

            M. Dana Small came to town in the 1930’s. The program for the “Second Annual Dance Recital” on May 13, 1936 features a photo of Mr. Small on the front. A list of 60+ students is divided into class A, B, C, D, E, F plus ballet class. Student names appear in only one class. 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.” A “classic toe dance” was performed by Jane Harrigan (later became Miss Maine). Small performed the final number to “end the dancing school season.” He would return in the fall to re-open classes.

            The Joseph McCluskey School of Dance was popular in the 1950’s. Recitals took place on stage at the Millinocket Theater. A program from the 1951 recital features 35 different group and solo performances with no listing as to the type of dance. The accompanist was Mrs. Dorothy Montgomery. McClusky performed the final number.    A second recital program from the McCluskey School of Dance (1950’s) 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.

            A program from June 1977 highlights the students of Lorraine Shippee. The recital was held 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.

            Veronica Carbonneau choreographed and directed her students in a recital titled “Showtime – Farewell 1986.” The program lists 31 numbers including tap, jazz and many other styles of dance. 

For the past several years, one of Shippee’s former students, Sandy (Hughes) Hartley, has been teaching students at her Studio One Dance & Acrobatic Center. Several former students and others are also involved with Studio One and assist the young dancers with classes and performances.

            Drop in at the museum to share your stories of dance performances and other activities of your childhood in Millinocket! Do you have programs, costumes 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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