teaching technique and philosophy lights
up a room like no other. Riordan, 66, has proven that it’s never too
late to be the person you were meant to be by growing her “small
sideline” of a business into America’s largest and most unique adult
tap dancing studio. She sits down with her son Brian for a frank
discussion to reflect on how things grew so fast.
Brian Riordan: Growing up, I knew
that dance was your passion. How do you think that influenced the way
you raised me?
Dance gave me confidence and allowed me to
experience a very happy childhood. I knew that I wanted to make
sure you were able to carve out your own sense of strength as a
kid. All I ever really hoped for was that you would be able to rely
on your own experiences and grow up to be successful and happy.
BR: You are known for teaching tap,
but what other type of
dance do you love?
stop everything I’m doing when I hear
a jitterbug song. My favorite from high school was
“Sea Cruise” – the faster the better.
BR: How do you feel about telling
story in Encore Performance?
intended to only write
all the great stories about my
Tap Pups, and all of the
who share my dream
with me. It was my agent
that suggested the story be told as my memoir –
that really shook me to my core. It never dawned on
me to write about my past.
BR: What story in the book are you
book with you. Do you have
any idea how special it is for a mom to do
something like this with her grown son?
And then to find out how attentive you
were even at such a young age to
recall every little detail and emotion
of our life. I was shocked at how
you remembered everything –
even my stories before you
BR: What was the toughest
story for you to tell in
Are you kidding
me?! How could I pick only
one? The most obvious would be sharing stories about the
abuse I suffered from your dad,
especially how he emotionally hurt you so badly at 4
years old. Another painful time in my life was saying goodbye to Forry
Gehret, my “little Gene Kelly of Steelton.”
BR: What’s the most surprising thing to you about being 66?
VR: The fact that I
retired from my job of 28
years only to end up
my own business that
inspires me everyday.
I definitely didn’t
see that coming.
BR: What advice would you give to
yourself at 21 years old?
VR: I would tell myself, “Keep dance in your
life and don’t ever let
it go. That is the core of
your strength and who you are. Always rely
strength because it will get you through the good and
BR: What would you say is the coolest thing about
largest adult tap group?
VR: The fact that I created America’s largest anything
is crazy, and
especially an adult-only tap program that has an
average age of 57.
It’s astounding to me that something like
this never really existed
before. I never even thought of
dreaming this big. I’m a proud baby
boomer and getting to
hang out with so many personalities and new
pretty cool if you ask me.
BR: What’s the deal with the red lipstick?
VR: Don’t forget about the matching red nail polish, too. Red
and nails have been “my thing” since I was in my 30’s.
When I was
young, every advertisement featured a sexy lady
wearing red lipstick.
So, when it came time for the Tap Pups
to perform, it was obvious to
me that they should all wear
bright red lipstick and nails. I knew it
would bring out the best
in each of my dancers, as well as act as a
unifier. They feel
sexy - they know they look good, and it projects on
stage. I also
knew a lot of them would wear it in their every day
Sometimes it’s the small things that make the biggest
difference. Oh, and by the way, in case you’re interested, my
signature red color is MAC Pro Longwear Lipcolour: “Lasting Lust.”
BR: Wow, that’s certainly a specific name. So, what would you
do in your 70’s?
VR: Still tapping strong and continue to choreograph my shows. Also,
it would be great to finally do some travelling... and meeting a
handsome prince charming wouldn’t be so bad, either.