The Art of Dance: Interview with Linda Oltmann Walker at Trudy’s School of Dance

Entrance to Trudy's School of DanceSusan: This is Susan Pidgeon with the James Island Bugle. I am here interviewing Linda Oltmann Walker of Trudy’s School of Dance. Good morning Linda. How are you doing today?

Linda: I am fabulous thank you.

Susan: You are the current owner, is that correct?

Linda: Yes, my daughter Tiffany Oltmann Gauch and I are co-owners.

Susan: I see by your sign that Trudy’s has been in business since 1939. Can you tell me a little bit about how it all got started?

Linda: My mom, who was Ms. Trudy of course, started teaching neighborhood children in her home when she was 17 years old. She started out in the living room and she said it just kept growing. She finally had to get a space and since that time, fortunately the studio has grown. We, at one time, had as many as 4 locations. We have been all over town, but we always had a presence on James Island. We were West Ashley in the Avondale area for 37 years, Downtown on Upper King St and Wentworth Street, as well as in Riverland Terrace. We have even been out in Hollywood, South Carolina. But now, with my mom and sister retiring, it is just easier and we feel like it’s more efficient, to have a location with two studios under one roof so that we can manage it properly.

Susan: So you have been in this location in Island Plaza for about 5 years? What are some of the benefits of being in this particular location? Lots of parking? Large rooms to practice? Safety?

Linda: The first thing we looked for is safety because we have the families coming with small children and we also have adults coming at night. So it has to be well lit with plenty of parking and just a safe haven and a space where we could put in what we needed in the two dance rooms..

Susan: Did you go to school to get a dance degree to take over Trudy’s or how did that happen? I know your mother was obviously the primary originator…

Linda: The way it really happened was when I was a junior at St. Andrews High School. Ms. Trudy got sick. She had a melanoma on her upper thigh that had to be removed immediately or the doctors felt it could take her life. So when I was 16, it was springtime and it was almost recital time back then. Ms. Trudy used to have her shows at Memminger Auditorium downtown. They were always in May. That was before Spoleto came along and put a monkey wrench in the May recitals. So, it was either I had to take over the school at that time or we had to close. My sister Judy was married, and not living in Charleston at the time, so it fell on me to do it or we had to shut the studio down. We certainly didn’t want to do that. Kids had bought costumes, investments were made toward the recital and we didn’t want to let the kids down. Mom did recover but it took some time since it was on her leg.

My senior year at St. Andrews, mom had to go to my principal and get my classes arranged so I could be off to go run the dance studio at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. My senior year I did that. Any future plans of going to college to study dance were diminished by running the studio. I did that for several years, and my sister eventually came back to Charleston and started helping out. I did go and study in different places. I went to Key West for a while and studied dance there.

My mother had started me going to dance conventions when I was 12. That was great, because at the dance conventions, you have professional dancers come from all over the country. They are the specialists in their field and you study under them for 2-3 days from 9 in the morning til 5 in the afternoon. You have a different teacher every 45 minutes, so every opportunity my mom had, she sent me to the dance conventions. That way, if I wanted to take over the school I would be well trained by some of the best people in the field.

I did that with my daughter Tiffany as well. When she got to be about 10-12 years old I started taking her. So, Judy came back, and she and I taught together for a while. Judy was kind of in and out. I took a 2 year hiatus and went to Hawaii to study Polynesian Dance. I brought that back to the studio and got back into the studio again. Since Judy was back it became a part time/full time for me. I got into banking downtown at a prominent bank in the Charleston area. I did that for 7-8 years. I would go to work at the bank 9-5 and then go to the studio and teach til 9 pm.

Linda Oltmann Walker
Linda Oltmann Walker

When Ms. Trudy retired in 1983, my sister Judy Oltmann Bennett and I co-owned it at that time, because Tiffany was still young. Tiffany continued to study and Judy and I ran the studio for many years after 1983. When Judy retired in 2008 my daughter Tiffany Oltmann Gauch stepped into her position.

We have been very blessed and fortunate in regards to the staff we have. Two of them have been with us for many years. Kristine Wilcox has been with me over 20 years and Erica Capdevila has been with us for 17-18 years. Ms. Cokeitha who currently does our Acro/gymnastic classes has been with us 2 years. Jill Lempesis has been with us since age 2 and worked herself into a class assistant position.

Normally to be a class assistant, you have to be well rounded in dance. And they have to know ballet, tap, jazz and a little bit of everything. We like them to be about 12 years old and having had 8 years of dance under their belt. Then, during an apprenticeship, they go from class assistant to junior then senior assistant as the others kind of roll in behind them. Jill has been with us 20 years since she was a child.  She began has a  Jr. Class Assistant, then Senior Assistant and is currently an Assistant Teacher also. We have given her a little bit more responsibility with choreography in the classes. We also have done this with Cayla Congdon who has been with us a good while as well. Cayla is a senior and she will be graduating this year and going to California to join a performing group, so we are proud of her. They both have been given a little more  opportunity to create their own choreography for certain classes as well as being responsible for Class Plans.  We have been overseeing their choreographic skills, letting them see how it is to put a piece together with the proper training for the age they are working with.

Susan: Trudy’s is known for its high standards. What do you require of your employees degree wise? Do they have to have a certain number of dance classes? I don’t know much about dance and its requirements to teach…

Linda: The thing about the dance business is there is no written law, or certification that you absolutely have to have to open a dance studio. That is kind of scary because you could have someone who took a couple of years and go hang out a shingle and they know nothing about injury prevention. They know very little. They might be fabulous dancers but being a great dancer doesn’t make you a great teacher. You have got to understand all of it. Erica and Kristine both have degrees in dance. That’s what their major was in college and they have danced for many many years. Others, like myself, since I did not get to go to college since I was running the studio at 16 years old, but I went at least once or twice a year to these conventions and got what I could get. I got the exposure. All my experience came from Ms. Trudy and life and exposure to all these different people some now that have passed. They were icons in their time and in the fields of jazz, tap, ballet and just a little bit of everything. They were from California to New York. They were from all over and there are a lot of conventions to this day that are bringing in lots and lots of people to keep that going on.

Susan: Is there anything you didn’t like about the conventions?

Linda: One downside of the conventions that disappoints me is their focus has gotten to be competition. It’s more about these kids going to the conventions because they have to be enrolled in the convention to be able to compete. The sad thing is, sometimes the teachers don’t require they go to class. So they are rehearsing somewhere in another room, not taking class but getting ready to do competition. I frown on that a little bit. Trudy’s has never been a competition school. Our focus is on education and performance. We feel like the kids and adults as well…because we teach a lot of adults, they have enough competition out there. It seems like it’s in everything.

In school, you have to be the best at this, you gotta beat her, get a better grade than him, to do this and to do that. They are faced with it every day. Even in sports, which is great, and I understand there are good sides to competition but I have seen the downsides. The jealousy and backbiting…sometimes it turns the children or the parents as well into nasty people. It is not what we want from our parents. There was a popular TV show and I guess it’s still going on and people ask me if I watch it and I say, you know, I watched one minute of it and I could not stomach it because I thought to myself if any of my teachers talked to our parents like that they would get their pink slip. They would be gone. If any of my students had an attitude like that toward my teachers, they would be gone. This would just not be the school for them.

Trudy's logoSusan: That was why I didn’t bring my daughter here for a long time because I was worried it would be too vicious of an atmosphere. I knew your school was serious and that normally is a part of it. When she was little, and more vulnerable, I didn’t want to put her in that kind of environment. You do see all the movies where it is really vicious and full of backbiting. The girls are nasty to each other instead of supportive. It creates a lot of negativity and a bad self-image.  I had never heard that about Trudy’s, it was just my assumption. But in fact, I have been pleasantly surprised it is not like that at Trudy’s. I have been very happy with what a welcoming, kind atmosphere it is because of that fear that some people have about dance classes. Nobody wants to willingly subject a vulnerable child or even an adult to those kind of things.

Linda:  Well, we have always strived very hard, and Ms. Trudy instilled this in us when we were young. Trudy’s is a family oriented business, and these parents are trusting you with their most precious commodity which is their child. And you have got to respect that. You set your standards and you try to get along with everybody but you are not going to please everybody all the time. You do it the kindest way you can and you take the highest road you can. You don’t ever speak negatively about competitors which why would we? If they are a competitor, I probably have never studied there so what do I know? There is enough business out there for everyone.

We have had students who have come through our school and are grown up. Some went to college some didn’t, but now they own their own dance studios in the Charleston area. People say, “Doesn’t that really bug you? They were your students and…” but I say “No, it makes me know I did my job. I did a good job, I trained them well. They know what they are doing, and I know they know are doing. So hey, it’s great there is another teacher out there offering dance to these adults and kids.”

We have been very fortunate that we have generation after generation come here. We have parents who came here that come in and bring their 2-3 year olds. In our hallway, we have photos of 20 plus years of students. They will find their grandmother up there in the photos and be amazed she came and took dance from us. I have an adult right now, her grandson takes classes here and she is taking class. With Tiffany being the third generation of the Oltmann Family, she would always laugh at me, but I would say “wow, people I went to school with…I am not only teaching their kids but their kids’ kids” and now she does that. So people she went to school with they have a 20 year old and they have a child now and I say to her, “See how fast time flies?”

So that makes us feel good to have that rollover where they come back. I have a little boy now that his mom took classes from me and Tiffany and her mother came in the other day, and I hadn’t seen her since she sat down in the old studio waiting on her daughter. So I said “Well, we must be doing something right” and she said, “Absolutely, we are not going anywhere else. We grew up in Trudy’s”

Susan: James Island is a tight knit community and I didn’t realize that until I moved over here myself. That’s one thing I like about it. It feels like a small town even though it is relatively big. So now tell me about your dance awards…I know you got one in shagging? Is that right?

Linda: I do. The Carolina Shag. It’s our state dance as I am sure you know. I just kind of grew up on it. I have older twin brothers, and a sister. When the twins were in high school, shagging was what they did on the Folly pier. So they had my sister Judy to practice with but they needed someone else. So when I was in first grade, they taught me how to shag when I was 6. It was a big thing back then, and it is an even bigger dance now.

Dance shoes at Trudy'sSo as I grew up, as a teenager in middle school and high school they would have dances various places. Pythian Castle and Grace Episcopal Church downtown, Alhambra Hall  and Danny Jones in North Charleston would have them. They would each take a turn hosting and we would all pile in a car and go. That’s what we did. We did the shag so I have always loved it. It’s always been second nature to me. I teach it now. I do some groups and some private lessons. In 2008 my partner Bill Young from Charlotte NC, he asked me to dance in the National Shag Dance Competition. We danced in the Masters division and we won first place. That’s that trophy you see up there. That same year I had been nominated, and you don’t know you have been nominated until you get in, it’s a very quiet kind of thing but it was announced I had been nominated and I got inducted into the Beach Shagger National Hall of Fame. In 2011 I got inducted to the National Living Legends of Dance out of Virginia Beach.

Susan: Switching gears, I know you teach some classes and you teach some private lessons. How many classes do you offer here at Trudy’s? What are some of the classes offered here so people know what they can come here for?

Linda: We offer classes in Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, and The Carolina Shag. We offer Acro which is an intro to gymnastics. We have Broadway, Irish Step which is offered by Caitlin D’Mello. We do group and individual lessons for weddings. Bride/Groom and Father/Daughter lessons are available. If the wedding attendants want to do a dance we can help with that as well.

Susan: Ballet at Trudy’s is held to a higher standard from what I can tell. Why is that?

Linda: Ballet is the nucleus of dance. It is probably the most important dance genre you can take. It trains you to understand your body and your whole core. Balance, focus, discipline. It’s just like the granddaddy of everything. If you are a ballet student, and have studied for some years, the other genres are easier to learn because you already know your body. You know your limitations and strengths. You know your weaknesses, as does your teacher probably. So ballet is just the center. In fact, if someone said, I can only afford one class, if they want dance and not social dancing like shag, ballet would be what I would recommend. If they come in and they tell me the child has lots of energy but they want a disciplined form of dance, that is where I would tell them Acro, Broadway and Hip Hop come in. They all have certain disciplines; it is not just a bunch of jumping around.

All of our teachers are real big on technique. They have to be able to break it down and have a student understand why they have to do things a certain way to accomplish the end result. That’s why in our Acro classes she starts them from ground one. She directs them and explains everything thoroughly. The Acro and The Hiphop are probably the most high energy classes.

Susan: I bet timing is important as well because they have to all move in unison. That always amazes me.

Linda: Yes, that is absolutely correct. Dance teaches students not just steps but self-discipline and how to work together as a team. When you dance with a group, you are part of a team and that means how to wait for your turn, how to take your turn, how to respect others. It is a life lesson to me. That is what our staff feels at least. When you walk in that door, you belong to me. You are going to behave and respect others. You are going to be polite to us and we are going to be polite to you.  Yes ma’am, No ma’am. We are Southern and expect manners.

In all these years, I only had one parent in over 50 years of teaching object to this. They said they were from another part of the country and didn’t do that. The parent complained her daughter didn’t want to say “Yes Ma’am” and we agreed she could say “Yes, Ms. Linda” or “Yes, Ms. Tiffany” and “Thank you, Ms. Linda” not “yeah, huh or what?” There is a way to be polite. We are not trying to make anybody accept our culture. It is not mandated. But what is mandated is respect. We give it to them and we expect it from them. If they don’t we have to sit down and talk about how to fix that or suggest another school might be a better fit for them. We are just not going to let the children run over us.

Susan: Do you ever discuss the history of dance with your students?

Linda: The ballet teachers do teach a lot of history and the jazz classes do as well. I walked in on Ms. Kristine’s class the other day and she is doing a piece that has a Bob Fosse who is a famous choreographer, it is his style of dance so she is discussing that with the students. Now we can give students the resources. Here is a name. I want you to go google it and come back and we will talk about it and see what you have learned. The internet is how kids learn today.

Susan: Talk about some of the success stories of some of your former students.

Linda: Well I wish I knew them all. A lot of times they leave here and move away and I will find out through the grapevine they opened a studio or been very successful. Maybe they danced in summer stocks or whatever. A lot of times they don’t come back to Charleston so we only hope they have done well and gone on to do great things.

Susan: So they could conceivably start as a child and go all the way through adult classes at Trudy’s and go on to a big city and dance there?

Linda: Yes, and that’s what they do. Our classes here at Trudy’s are leveled classes. By that I mean they can start here at any age as a beginner. That’s a misconception that some people don’t understand. Adults especially. They think, “well I am 30 years old and I have never danced. Am I going to be with the babies?” We are told all the time, “We are so glad we found you because nobody offers adult classes anymore.” They feel like you have to go from college age or senior tappers over 50. That is a big gap in there.

Awards at Trudy'sSusan: I even saw a pregnant lady dancing during the last event!

Linda: We teach as many adults as we do kids. Some of them have been with us for a long time, some are new. So, all of the classes are for adults and kids as well as coed. They are all graded level classes. We have a curriculum that all the staff goes by. Once they have attained and accomplished everything in the base curriculum, then they are allowed to go to the next class. We are thrilled that we can do that because a child that starts at 2-3 and are then 8-10 and are pretty good they find themselves with nowhere to go because they don’t teach anything beyond that. Some teachers just don’t want to do it. Our school goes from beginners to advanced level 4. By that time, you are probably going to college and can major or minor in dance so you keep yourself active in what you have learned. Then if they want to be in Summer Stock, plays, Flat Rock Playhouse or even Spoleto they have the skills to audition. A lot of our kids go on to SOA [School of the Arts]. They are accepted right away. That tells us we are doing a good job giving them the basic skills they need.

Susan: What is your percentage of male to female? I know there is one boy in ballet currently with my daughter in ballet.

Linda: The percentage of male students in our studio is probably pretty low only because of the stigma associated with male dancers. I remind them of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, or even Michael Jackson? They were all male dancers. I noticed this the other day in a newsclip I was watching for an upcoming Grammy show. I would say 80% of the backup dancers were male. When I talk to people about boys and dance I tell them our classes are coed classes. That being said, when there is a male in there, there is a way you teach certain things to a male that is different from what would teach to female students. In our giggle toes class, we have 2 boys and 7 girls and that is the usually ratio we see in our classes. They have to learn the basics of dance so you teach them bourree which is a running step and when they turn the boys are taught to bow and the girls are taught to curtsy. So the boys understand, the girls understand and mommy and daddy understand. There is a distinguishing line that you have to draw. All the boys we have right now are either in Hiphop, Broadway, Acro or Ballet. The younger classes are tap and jazz and we do have boys sprinkled in those.

Susan: Now do boys wear the same ballet shoes as girls? I never thought about what they wear that might be different from girls.

Linda: They do. They wear black ballet shoes that are the same as girls. They wear black jazz pants and a white t-shirt they can move in. They have boys and men black tap shoes.There is just as much for the men in the costume wear books as for the women. But it seems like Ballet gets hit the hardest trying to get boys to sign up because of the societal stigma associated with male dancers. And that is sad.

Susan: But you need the male upper body strength because they are able to lift the ballerinas. So that’s a shame.

Linda: I have two boys that come from a well-known local family and they brought them to us when they were very young. They started with a combo class like all of our kids from age 2-8. They are introduced to a little ballet, jazz and tap. When they get above that, if they want to specialize we can accommodate them. They both continued up to middle school. One of them went to try out for the basketball team and could out jump all the other boys because he had built up his leg muscles. The coach and the team wanted to know how and he reluctantly told them he was taking dance classes. It’s little stories like that you don’t forget.

Susan: I know you hold two events yearly for your students. Will you tell us about those please?

Linda: We have our Christmas performance entitled “Catch the Spirit” and that is what it is about…catching the true spirit of the season. It was actually Ms. Kristine’s idea. She walked in the office one day and said we should have a little Christmas show. Just for fun to get our families together. Have candy canes and whatever else. So we sent out all the info to the parents. We didn’t even have email back then, that’s how long ago it was. We sent home little notes to everybody that we were having a little show at the studio in our old building where Wild Ropes is now. We thought, “well, it is the week before Christmas and people are probably going to be gone and we won’t expect too much participation beyond 3-40 kids who want to do this. Out of the entire enrollment in the school we only had 9 people not do it because they were out of town. We literally had to bus them in from BiLo which was behind our studio. One of our families had a chauffeur service so we had to tell people to park at BiLo and we brought 30-40 of them at a time over to the studio. They were literally packed in there wall to wall. We had decided it might be fun to have some door prizes so we went to a couple businesses and asked for donations to add excitement to the night. Parents loved it. Kids loved it. Everyone said to get a bigger place to hold everyone comfortably.

The next year we moved it to St James Episcopal Ministry Center which is where I go to church. Over the years we decided to have a silent auction. So it has grown and grown. We just had our 8th year and we usually have anywhere from 60-80 vendors that participate and donate items or services. We do the silent auction for an hour then all the classes perform a minute or a minute and a half number. We try to cover all the religious beliefs with the genres of music we choose so everyone is pleased. We have Santa come in at the end which is always a surprise but the kids love it. We couldn’t do it all without the volunteers.

Trudy's sweat shirtSusan: And the other event?…

Linda: We do that one in Dec and then we have our Year End Performance. We start working on it after the holidays in January. We have it at various places. We did the Gaillard for over 40 years and when they were remodeling we moved to The Sottile Theatre for several years. One year we had it at School of the the Arts and this year we are going to have it at James Island Charter Auditorium which is a very nice new facility. It’s here on the island so we feel like it will be convenient and more approachable for our students. The majority of our students are from James Island. We have a few from West Ashley, North Charleston and Johns Island.

Susan: I know you had the 4 locations at one point. Was there a particular reason why you consolidated it? Was it easier to manage?

Linda:  Well, when we had West Ashley, we had been over there 38 years. When they built the connector in the 90s, a lot of the students there wanted to come to our James Island location because it has a big double studio on Folly Rd and it was easy to get to us. Once that happened and more students trickled over there, there was no point in keeping our West Ashley location open since they were 10 minutes apart. We opened Mt. Pleasant in 1983 when Ms. Trudy retired. My sister Judy lived over there at the time so it was easier for her to teach in Mt. Pleasant. I lived on James Island and ran the studios over here. She came over here one day a week and I went over to Mt. P one day a week for a while just to split it up. Staff changes happened and Judy retired.

I wanted to keep the family influence of dance families together and I felt like I could not do that by not ever going to Mt. Pleasant. I was teaching 4-5 days a week on James Island and I felt it wasn’t fair to leave my students to go over to Mt Pleasant every other week. There was no continuity. It came down to keeping my finger on the pulse of my business. I was too scattered. The quality and the level of the business ethics we had established were in jeopardy. I couldn’t keep a handle on it by never being over there. We had to make the hard decision to accept less students for the upside of less expense. I could really devote myself to the James Island studio. I can’t be in both studios at once but at least I was in the building.

Susan: When you say two studios, I am a little bit confused. Please clarify.

Linda: Trudy’s School of Dance has a Studio A and Studio B. We have done that for many years because we needed a place for workshops and parties and things like that.

Susan: We haven’t mentioned the Lock-Ins. Tell us more about those.

Linda: We try to do those quarterly if we can based on a theme. It depends on teacher availability because they all have other jobs. So often we can’t coordinate schedules. But when we can hold one we have a party from 6 to 7:30 for all ages and then when the party ends, the children under 6 years of age go home, and then the 6+ older kids stay for the lock-in slumber party. The older ones come and bring sleeping bags and we have pizza and we show dance movies and have popcorn. We have snacks and play dance games and we paint fingernails, do makeup, etc. Slumber party stuff. The teachers are there to supervise and a couple of assistants as well. We go into the back and notify the police that we are in the building overnight with the children. So everything is very secure. They sleep over and are picked up 7 am by the parents. It’s a great time for the kids!

Susan: Does Trudy’s do any birthday party packages or anything?

Linda: We do offer birthday events. The prices vary depending on what kind of party and how many people are coming. They can bring the food so no issues there. We also can do adult birthday parties as well. Our staff can teach them how to dance as part of the package. We have table space, sound system, that sort of thing. Prices depend on the add-ons you want.

Susan: So adults could have a birthday party where you teach them Shag for example?

Linda: Absolutely and I have done it in the past. They could rent the space for 3-4 hours and bring in whatever beverages they want. If they want me to come in and give a shag lesson I can. One of the shag clubs here in Charleston just had their big Christmas event here. You would be amazed how we can convert this room into a party atmosphere with the lighting we have. It almost looks like a nightclub in here. So our space is open to rent for events. We also offer space for lease for other teachers. Pilates, Yoga, Belly Dance teachers all utilize our space. They do have to have their own liability insurance but we lease space to them as well.

Susan: What would you like to see for the future of Trudy’s ?

Linda: Another 78 years.

Susan: I know there have been 3 generations in your business. Tiffany is next in line to run Trudy’s. What changes do you think she might make?

Linda: Well, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, and I would hope she would start there. There again, I hope she has trained qualified staff to keep the standards up and that sort of thing. But with each generation comes new ideas, and I would hope she would encourage those.

Susan: Did you ever have a conversation with Tiffany about running the business after you or was it just expected? I know you personally were thrown in the mix due to your mother’s illness.

Linda: My mother always said, “This is my passion and while you are very good at it, you may not want to do it and you do not have to. Don’t worry about it. Trudy’s will have had a good long run no matter what,” so I took that to heart. When I took the break and went to Hawaii and came back, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. From that first show I did when I was 16, when my mom was sick and those kids knew Ms. Trudy was probably going to be in a wheelchair on the side of the stage, and the show was only going on because thank God she had a daughter to help out, something about standing on the side of that stage…I will never forget it, watching those kids that I had brought them through the crisis and get them ready and on that stage. It was an epiphany with the feelings of a sense of accomplishment for them not me really, that I somehow had a small hand in it. I knew then I wanted to be a dance teacher.

Susan: You told me Tiffany left and had a similar experience upon returning.

Linda: Yes, Tiffany left went to California and came back went to the recital and started crying and said, “this is what I have to do”. But like I have told her now because she has opportunities in front of her she can take. As a single person that she needs to consider where her life is going to go and I remind her all the time, “78 years is a pretty good run. We have carried on my mom’s legacy for a long time and we have done real well. If whatever year is the last year, we did a good job. We did the best we could. Thousands and thousands of students went through these doors thanks to my mom. That’s all we can do. Life goes on”.

Trudy's flyerI am not getting any younger and I am going to have to retire at some point I guess. If that comes to pass, since Tiffany doesn’t have any children, there is not another Oltmann woman in the mix. In my prayers every morning I have quiet time with the Lord and I pray whatever path it is I am on make sure I see it and understand it. I pray too that someone will come along to keep this legacy going if it’s meant to be. It might not be. It might be in the history books. Trudy’s was here 78 years, God bless them all. If that’s the way it is that is the way it is. We don’t know what the future holds for us. If we keep going I only see it going up, not down.

Susan: Well it has been a pleasure talking with you. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

Linda: Thank you as well. It was my pleasure.

Trudy’s Dance Studio Teachers are Kristine Wilcox, Erica Capdevila and Cokeitha Gaddist. Assistant Teachers are Cayla Congdon and Jill Lempesis. Senior Assistant Teacher is Sierra Brown. Irish Step Dance Teacher is Caitlin D’Mello.

Trudy’s Dance Studio Teachers are Kristine Wilcox, Erica Capdevila and Cokeitha Gaddist. Assistant Teachers are Cayla Congdon and Jill Lempesis. Senior Assistant Teacher is Sierra Brown. Irish Step Dance Teacher is Caitlin D’Mello.

Trudy’s is located at 1291 Folly Road. For more information, visit their website.

Susan W. Pidgeon, MFA is the owner of The Studio Art Center on Fort Johnson Rd where she teaches private lessons and art classes to adults and children. She received her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2001 and has been teaching ever since. She has taught for the City of Charleston and Charleston County as well as The Artists Loft in Mt. Pleasant. She lives on and loves James Island. You can reach her at (854)2025394 or You can find her at or her Yelp/FB/Twitter or Instagram pages as well.

The James Island Bugle shares news about the James Island, South Carolina and brings you stories about people, places and events. We are all all-volunteer, no profit news site. If you would like to contribute, write us at


Post Comment