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 had a passion for dance at an early age. She took her first dance class at the age of three. As she got older, she began studying through the summers in New York City studying ballet, Flamenco, Polynesian and Modern. She excelled at every style she tried. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English Literature and Education. She continued her study of dance by attending Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts and classes in NYC. Shortly thereafter she and Ken purchased an established studio. Ken and Jean Dance Studio was born. It is still located in North Versailles and now run by their daughter, Darcy Field. Jean was a 50 year member of Dance Masters and was also active in the Cecchetti Council of America. Jean taught at many conventions over the years and was awarded the President’s Award from the Dance Masters of America. Her students can be seen in film, on TV, in dance companies and many of them are teaching dance.
Ken Phifer – Tap Award
Ken and Jean Dance Studio
Ken took his first dance class at the age of seven. He was partnered as a dance team with Jean Dorfield in his early teen years. Their dance teacher recognized an undeniable combination of talent and chemistry. They performed together across the tri-state area. That partnership later became a marriage and they purchased the Ken and Jean Dance Studio from an established studio owner who moved out of state. Ken refined his style of tap dance and studied with Jack Stanly and Henry LeTang. He spent his summers in NYC and at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts. Ken also had a passion for music. He could play the piano, clarinet and saxophone. He wrote his own music for children’s dance classes and started his own record company in the process called Kenn Records. He began teaching regularly for dance conventions for Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators. He taught for the DMA Teachers’ Training School, and was a 50 year member of DMA. He had many accolades along the way including the President’s Award from DMA. Together Ken and Jean trained many dancers in the Pittsburgh area, and many of them went on to dance professionally or teach in the area.
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.