Q: What did you  accomplish at UArts that you never thought possible?

Few people have the pluck or the pocketbooks of a Florence Foster Jenkins. We might have dreamed of commanding an audience at Carnegie Hall, or rocking the stage with Bruce. We might have eyed the long-limbed dancers under the arched windows of Terra Hall and yearned to be on toe to Tchaikovsky. We might have caught a modern art exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and wondered if we too, could have painted that. But for the most part, we remain the audience rather than the performer.

However, for those of us who dwell or work in Philadelphia with artistic goals languishing on the shelf, all is not lost.  For several years, I have slipped from my office to the rest room after work, shed the jacket and pumps, donned the Lycra, and become a student of the arts. First it was jazz dance. We limbered up channeling Lady Gaga and Amy Winehouse, may she rest in peace, and then donned hats and canes, working on routines (involving chairs!). True, I was always a beat or two behind, but it was a blast.

A few years later, I put on my first set of tap shoes. Yeah.  The class fit into my schedule, and when your kids are out of the house and you’ve passed the mid-century mark, you crave something new.  Something you’ve never done.  And fortunately, you’re past worrying about whether you’re any good. So tap was perfect and Corrine Karon, bless her heart, has mastered the art of keeping a class flowing with dancers of all levels. I learned the difference between trenches and shim shams, and gained appreciation for the difference in styles between Fred Astaire, Savion Glover and Michelle Dorrance, to name a few.

So I’ve been able to indulge this imagination.  I flash my student card, glance at the latest posters, and feel like part of the crowd at the Wawa.  Thank you, UArts, for enabling an art lover to connect to her artistic impulse and the pulse of the city. It’s been great to meet and dance with people of all ages and backgrounds.  I’m doing it.  Here’s to 140 more years of continuing education.



Denise Portner is senior vice president at SteegeThomson Communications and a UArts Continuing Education student.