Vicki G. Riordan’s 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?
Vicki Riordan: 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?
VR: I practically 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 your life story in Encore Performance?
VR: Initially, I intended to only write all the great stories about my Tap Pups, and all of the wonderful people 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 most proud of?
VR: Writing this 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 were born.
BR: What was the toughest story for you to tell in your memoir?
VR: 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 running 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 on that strength because it will get you through the good and the tough times.”
BR: What would you say is the coolest thing about creating America’s 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 friends ispretty 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. Redlipstick 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 life. 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 youlike to 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 ah and some prince charming wouldn’t be so bad, either.