Roseanne Casper and Jessica Cook took their first ballet classes in the same studio in Magnolia decades apart.
Casper first learned to dance in the Roseanne’s School of Dance studio (3116 W. Smith St.) well before her name was on the building. Then, 23 years ago, she taught Cook in her first dance class. Now, after 40 years, Casper is retiring, and Cook is taking over the studio. She took over Aug. 28 and began the new classes on Oct. 1.
Casper had hip replacement surgery five years ago and had been looking for someone to take over the studio ever since. She interviewed a lot of candidates, but no one was ever quite right. During that time, she talked to Cook, who had moved to California to continue her dance education.
Returning to her roots
Cook grew up in Magnolia and began taking classes at Roseanne’s when she was 3. She continued until age 22 while she studied at the University of Washington. Starting at age 15, she was a student dance teacher and took over for Casper when she was out of town. Eventually, Cook decided to move home and agreed to take over the studio.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Casper said. “She is the perfect person for the job because of her experience with me and she has the same philosophy of teaching that I have.”
That teaching philosophy of the caring, nurturing environment, where students learn confidence and discipline through dance, is something Cook wants to continue.
“I think Roseanne’s got a really good foundation, and her teaching style and her philosophy for the studio really works with the community and the kids,” Cook said. “So I don’t want to change any of that.”
Little has changed since Cook took over, including the studio’s name, which she plans to keep. She is looking into adding more class times and some hip-hop or lyrical jazz classes, but those won’t come until later.
Casper will stay with the studio through December to help Cook make a smooth transition.
“It’s kind of cool for me to come back [and give] that experience to the kids that I had growing up because it was so much fun for me and I got so much out of it,” Cook said. “I do love performing, and I love being out there on stage, but I think, for me, I get more out of it with the kids than I would [dancing] professionally,” Cook said.
Both Casper and Cook agree that dance is valuable, even for students who don’t pursue it as a career. They cited benefits like coordination, flexibility, posture and confidence.
“It also gives them a sense of discipline they can benefit from their whole lives,” Casper said.
‘A wonderful opportunity’
Many of the older students remember Cook from her time as a student teacher at Roseanne’s, and they’re excited to have her back. In fact, most of the community has been on board with the change in ownership, Casper said.
“I’ve explained to them that she’s such a good fit for the community,” she said. “She’s a Magnolia girl.”
Casper has watched many students grow in the studio over the last 40 years, including Cook. It’s difficult for her to say goodbye, but she’s excited to leave the studio in Cook’s hands.
“What a privilege it has been to teach the children because they’ve been creative and talented and bright, and thanks to the community for supporting me all of these years,” Casper said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me, and I’m sure it will be a wonderful opportunity for Jessica, too.”
For more information about Roseanne’s School of Dance, call (206) 284-6297.
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