Thursday, May 20, 2010

Essay 2

Martha Douce Manianci has been teaching dance for more than 65 years. She still lives in the house that she taught dance in and now has been passed down to her daughters. On the day of the interview she was celebrating her 79th birthday. We sat down in the waiting room of the main studio, surrounded by dance pictures and awards from Martha, family, and past and present students. Before we began the interview we started talking to a mother that was out in the waiting room about the wedding of her grandchild on Saturday. You could just see her glowing with joy. She was just so happy for the newlyweds.
Martha is the perfect example of a person who knows how to follow her dreams. At the age of thirteen, Homer Huffman, the band director of the Harding High School band took Martha and her fellow band mates to a band camp at Baldwin Wallace College. She saw someone who was teaching majorettes and Martha asked her if she could help. She stayed there for two weeks and helped her with the majorettes. When Martha’s mother came to pick her up, the teacher stated, “go home and put an ad in the paper for baton lessons, limited number of students.” Martha’s first class had a total of 15 students in it.
Martha and her husband, Joe started began their dancing in Columbus, Ohio from Jack Sherit at the Jorg Fasting Dance School. Besides baton, tap was one of the first dances that the couple started teaching. Followed by ballroom and lastly jazz. Even to this day, Martha still teaches ballroom to couples. Currently, there are Martha Douce Dance Studios in Marion, Bucyrus, Galion, Mt. Gilead, Waldo, Delaware, Cincinnati, and one coming soon in Cleveland. Each studio is being run by a daughter of Martha and Joe’s or a family friend. The thing Martha hopes for in the future is that the studios will always be family owned. She hopes for one day that her great grandchildren will run all eight of the studios. When I asked Martha why she wanted to start a dance studio, she told me she did not really know why she wanted to. It was just something to do. Martha just had the passion for dancing and wanted to share that passion with the rest of the community.
Not only is dance something that is close to her heart but family is as well. She currently has twenty-eight grandchildren and the family is constantly expanding. When asked what she wants to be remembered for she told me, “for being a good mother and good catholic.” It was not for being a good dance teacher or having many successful dance studios; it was religion and family. The two most important things a person needs in life. Martha even stated that even her role models would have to be her daughters. She told me this is because they mean everything in the world to her. To prove this point, the picture above is of her and her daughter, Marilyn who runs the Marion and Mt. Gilead studios.
A few of the accomplishments that Martha is most proud of is receiving the Ohio Distinguished Citizen award. Only ten women received the award. Another thing Martha is very proud of is her Martha Douce Dance Club for ballroom. This club lasted for twenty-five years. Together, the dance club raised $90,000 for children’s leukemia. With that money, Children’s hospital was able to open up a research wing that was named after a young boy that had passed away from cancer that Martha and Joe knew from their church.
When Martha started telling me about her activities, I started to get exhausted myself. When Martha is not at the YMCA exercising, swimming, or teaching the electric slide to the ladies in her water aerobics class, she loves to knit, and spend time with her family in the spare time she has. Martha also has routine interviews with the local radio stations and is constantly attending numerous dance shows. She also loves to attend the Marion Midget Football games. She is currently the secretary for Marion Midget Football.
To herself and many others, Martha has lived a very successful life. Opening up eight studios around Ohio, having a loving family that is constantly growing, and spending so much time doing the activities she has been doing for years. It’s great to even the community of Marion, Ohio has great stories to tell about when they were a young child and danced for Martha. I know even myself have gathered up a few great stories of the time I have shared with Martha over the years. I am so glad I have gotten the chance to dance in the presence of Martha and do this interview today.


  1. This is very cool Shelby! It is awesome to see someone doing so much for the community. She is truly an inspiration and a great dance teacher. I found her profile very interesting!

  2. Its pretty crazy that shes been doing dance for over 65 years, it really shows her dedication and passion for it.