Melanie Miller was a little self-conscious when she signed up for an adult tap dance class last summer. It'd been nearly 15 years since she set foot in a dance studio.
"I've run six marathons,” said Miller, 35, of Harbour Island. “But [running] was getting monotonous and boring. I wanted a new type of exercise.”
A co-worker at TECO took a tap class at the Patel Conservatory and recommended it to Miller.
“I was very nervous getting back into it. The word ‘conservatory’ sounds intimidating” she said, “but after 10 minutes, you’re at ease. Everyone was so welcoming, and they’re all at different levels. It wasn’t intimidating at all.”
When Miller was little, she took ballet, tap and jazz. Susan Downey’s tap class brought back her love of dance.
“Susan’s very encouraging. When I got back into dance, I was a little down on myself. Susan makes everyone feel like they’re the best dancer, she makes them feel special.”
In the fall, Miller continued with tap, and signed up for more classes. In the spring, she got to perform with Susan’s students for the Owls senior group in Northdale, and with the Opera Tampa in Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center.
Miller signed up for four classes over the summer (tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop), and plans to sign up for two more this week.
“I love performing, I’m all about the recitals,” she admits. “I’m never going to be a prima ballerina, but just the chance every once in a while to get to dance on that big stage makes you feel so good.”