Marjorie Barth – Acrobatic Award
Mamie Barth School of Dance
Marjorie Barth was the daughter of Mamie Barth who owned and operated the Barth School of Dance in downtown Pittsburgh on Liberty Avenue for many years. Marjorie took over the studio when her mother passed away in 1979. The studio was known for their acrobatic expertise. They had several students who went on to professional careers such as the Radio City Rockettes and the Radio City Corps de Ballet. The Barth studio held their annual recitals at the Syria Mosque in Oakland and held Cecchetti Ballet classes at the studio. Marjorie was an active member of DMP for many years.
Kathleen Brittain – Lyrical Award
Larraine Susa’s Dance Unlimited
Kathleen was a teacher at her sister’s studio Larraine Susa’s Dance Unlimited in Uniontown for 45 years. She studied with many master teachers across the country and attended many workshops and intensives abroad. She also adjudicated for several competition groups over the years. Kathleen was an active member of DMA and DMP and was also a board member. Her students have been successful in many of the Dance Masters events they participated in. These include: Scholarship winners, Barth Acrobatic Day winners, and Petite, Junior, Teen and Miss Dance of America. Many of Kathleen’s students have gone on to professional careers.
Jane Cicci – Choreography Award
Vella Dance Studio
Jane began her teaching career in her garage and expanded to 5 studio locations under the name Vella School of Dance. They were located in Finleyville, Bethel Park, Monongahela, Floreff, and Library. She spent over 60 years teaching dance. Jane was a longtime member of DMP and encouraged her studio teachers to also join. Her favorite aspect of DMP was socializing and attending the National convention with her sister, Louise. Jane’s love of dance lead her into costume design. She then opened the Cicci Dance Supplies in Finleyville. She enjoyed having the annual photo shoots, the Style Show and luncheon for the area dance teachers. She loved seeing the joy that her beautiful designs brought to her customers.
Ruby Daugherty – Overall Precision Award
Ruby Daugherty and Sherry School of Dance
Ruby was a student at the Vella Dance Studio and eventually took over one of Jane Cicci’s studios in Library. It was renamed the Ruby Daugherty and Sherry School of Dance. She was a member of DMP for over 60 years. She loved socializing at the conventions with her dance teacher friends. Her daughter, Sherry Parisi is also a DMP member. Her students were active at conventions, competitions, scholarships, and Titles. She was also the founder of the Modernettes Baton Corps. Ruby’s students won several titles locally, statewide, and nationally. She enjoyed watching each dancer improve and their love of dance grow year by year. Her favorite dance style was ballet and she called the studio her “happy place”!
Donna Grove – Entertainment Award
Vella Dance Studio
Donna grew up dancing at her mother’s studio the Vella School of Dance. She had a B.S. in Education from California University of Pa. Upon her mom’s (Louise Vella) passing, Donna took over the studio in Bridgeville and also had a studio in Houston, Pa. She also taught dance within the Upper St. Clair and Mt. Lebanon school district. The Vella School of Dance celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2008. Donna was a President of DMP two times. She enjoyed attending the conventions and socializing with her dance friends. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers or continued their dance training at the college level. She also has dancers who continued in her footsteps and now teach or own their own studios.
Doris Kokoski – Technical Excellence Award
Doris Singer Dance Studio
Doris acquired her dance teachers’ studio at the age of 14. She changed the name to the Doris Singer Dance Studio. The studio was located in Beaver County. She continued her education by attending Dance Masters and Cecchetti Council of America conventions and training workshops. She was a member of DMP for over 60 years. Many of Doris’ students have gone on to study in college or dance professionally in the many areas offered. She has had Petite, Junior, Miss and Mr. Dance title winners and many scholarship recipients over the years. Doris served DMP as President, Vice President, Secretary, and was a Board member for many years. She enjoyed watching her students achieve their goals and reach for their dreams. Her daughter Darci continues her legacy.
Dotty McGill – Costume Award
Dotty McGill School of Dance
Dotty owned and operated the Dotty McGill School of Dance in Fredonia, Slippery Rock and Grove City. She was a member of DMP for over 60 years and served on the Board, and as Vice President, and President. She also held the offices of National Treasurer, 1st Vice President, and President. She was instrumental in beginning the Seven Springs Easter Convention and Performing Arts Competition. At the national level she was responsible for beginning the Teachers Training School along with Mr. Bill Royal. She served as principal at TTS for many years. Dotty enjoyed teaching all the babies, and handed out patterns and fabric for the moms to sew the dancer costumes each year for the recitals. The studio is currently located in Grove City and run by Dotty’s daughter Ann Garvey and grandson, Kevin Garvey.
Maryen Lorrain Miller – Most Creative Award
Maryen Lorrain Dance Studio
Maryen Miller opened her first studio in Miami, Florida at the age of 18. She became a member of the Florida Dance Masters and began her journey with the organization. Upon her marriage she came to Western Pa. and settled down in Pittsburgh. She opened a studio in Penn Hills. Maryen loved working with children and offering them an education in dance. She also enjoyed the many friends she made along the way through dance conventions and competitions. Maryen was a President of DMP along with the Membership Chairman and many other offices. She especially enjoyed getting to know the new members. She has many students that have gone on to work in film, TV and many who went on to dance professionally. Many of her students are now following in her footsteps and are now teaching. Her studio is still operating with her daughter in the location and name changed to the Abby Lee Dance Company.
Marlene Moore – Judges’ Choice Award For 12 and Under Solos and Duos/Trios
Marlene Moore Dance Studio
Marlene Moore began her dance training with Jane Vella Cicci and student taught at her studio during her teenage years. When Jane retired from teaching Marlene took over one of Jane’s studios. She renamed it the Marlene Moore Dance Studio. The studio was in Elizabeth until 2015. Marlene’s favorite dance style was tap, and she directed the Majorettes at Elizabeth Forward and Thomas Jefferson High Schools. Marlene was a 59 year member of DMP and served as President three times as well as in other positions. She was instrumental in bringing in the younger students to conventions having worked on Mini Day and the Mini Talent Showcase. She also served as the vendor chairman for many years. Some of her students are currently members of DMP. Marlene’s favorite part of the organization was attending the conventions in NYC!
Jean Phifer – Ballet Award
Ken and Jean Dance Studio
Jean Phifer had a passion for dance that burned brightly throughout her life. She took her first dance class at age three and at age five was paired with Ken to perform across the tri-state area. At 14, she began spending summers in NYC, studying ballet with the greatest teachers of the time. She also studied flamenco, Polynesian dance, and various forms of Eastern and Modern dance. Jean earned her English Literature and Education degree from University of Pittsburgh and in 1946, became a member of Dance Masters of America and Dance Masters of Pennsylvania. Shortly after, the opportunity to enter the dance business came along when the owner of an established studio move out of state. Ken and Jean bought the studio in 1948, with plans to marry in the spring. Jean was a 50 year member of Dance Masters and was influential in bringing the Cecchetti Council of America to western Pennsylvania. Over the years, Ken and Jean were recipients of hundreds of awards, both personal and professional. Among these awards were the prestigious President’s Award from the Dance Masters of America, a Senatorial Proclamation from the State of Pennsylvania, and the McKeesport Symphony Society’s Award for Service in the Arts. Jean felt extremely privileged to have lived a life that was meaningful and intensely creative. In spite of great national success, Ken and Jean’s hearts were always with their students at Ken and Jean Dance Studio. Jean never truly did retire. Her students have been seen in film and TV as well as on Broadway and in dance companies. Many of her students have become inspiring teachers of their own.
Ken Phifer – Tap Award
Ken and Jean Dance Studio
Ken Phifer began dancing at age seven and was paired with Jean to perform across the tri-state area in his teens. Ken’s passion was music and could play just about every instrument he picked up. At age 16, he was offered a summer job playing the saxophone that toured the US. When he returned, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps to serve in WWII. Ken spent summers in NYC and at Jacob’s Pillow refining his style of tap dancing and earned his college degree from the University of Pittsburgh. Ken joined Dance Masters of America and Dance Masters of Pennsylvania in 1946 and in 1948, Ken and Jean bought an established studio, re-named it Ken and Jean Dance Studio, and married the following spring. At the time, there was little in the way of children’s dance music, so Ken wrote his own and started his own record company, Kenn Records. He produced over 40 records which he sold exclusively to dance teachers. As word of the talented and innovative young couple spread, Ken and Jean were asked to teach at conventions and were teaching regularly for Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators of America. Ken attracted a huge following on the national circuit and was asked to teach at the Dance Masters Teacher’s Training School for seven years back to back. Ken was an active member of Cecchetti Council of America, a 50 year Member of Dance Masters of America, and a member of the Musician’s Union. Over the years, Ken and Jean were recipients of hundreds of awards, both personal and professional. Among these awards were the prestigious President’s Award from the Dance Masters of America, a Senatorial Proclamation from the State of Pennsylvania, and the McKeesport Symphony Society’s Award for Service in the Arts. Ken never truly retired and often remarked that he couldn’t believe his great fortune of the life his feet had given him. Together Ken and Jean trained thousands of dancers and teachers who became established dancers and teachers of their own.
Louise Vella – Entertainment Award
Vella Dance Studio
Louise studied dance and music at an early age. Her mom would travel with her 3 daughters to NYC for lessons and to enjoy a Broadway play or dance performance. Louise began to give dance classes in the family home. From there, her love of teaching spread throughout the region growing to 11 studios at one time. The Vella Dance Studio celebrated it’s 75th anniversary in 2008. Louise and her sister Jane were members of DMP for many years and attended the conventions and events together. Louise especially enjoyed going to the National Conventions to catch up with her friends there.