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Morita’s School of Dance celebrates its 50th anniversary

Morita Tapley owns Morita’s School of Dance in Hermon at 2256 Route 2.
Courtesy of Morita Tapley

Dancers (standing) Alex Chamberland, Nicole Petersen, Meagan Berry, Natasha Call, Ally Scuderi and (kneeling) Megan Johnston at the Dance Excellence Performance Boards in California.
Courtesy of Morita Tapley

HERMON– Not many businesses last 50 years in this day and age.  However, Morita’s School of Dance, headed by Hermon’s Morita Tapley, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Morita started dancing with Polly Thomas of Bangor at the age of 3 and and continued dancing with Polly until her retirement. She also danced in the Thomasettes and the Maine State Ballet throughout college. Morita started her own studio when she was 14, and was on the Board of Directors of the Maine Dance Teachers Club for over 20 years.  

Morita has had studios in a variety of locations throughout central Maine and currently has satellite studios in Dover, Milo, Bucksport and Old Town.  Morita has also choreographed for many musical productions, including several for Hermon High School.

Morita’s School of Dance was formed after Tapley’s parents turned their two-car garage into a dance studio. After Morita outgrew the garage, she rented space in schools, Grange Halls, recreation centers and the like.  In 1980, her grandparents built a studio at the top of Miller Hill in Hermon where she remained until moving into Morgan Hill Event Center in 2007.  In 2013, the studio moved into its new home at 2256 Route 2 where classes continue to this day.

In 1989, Morita’s School of Dance was invited to the Young Americans Invitational Dance Festival in Los Angeles, California.  Every 3 years, the Young Americans have come to Maine offering their Musical Outreach Workshop for grades 3-12 and college age kids.

The Young Americans will be hosted by Hermon High School September 21-23 and Orono High School, September 24 and 25.  If anyone would like to host two Young Americans in their home, please contact the studio.

Morita’s School of Dance has also represented Maine at Dance Excellence in Los Angeles eight times.  A group of dancers from the studio will be representing the state once again March 30-April 7, 2018.  This is for dancers 8 years through college. Space is still available to attend Dance Excellence for anyone interested in attending.  Dancers from other studios are welcome to join us as well.

During Dance Excellence, the dancers will have classes with instructors from the arts and entertainment industry, perform at Disneyland and compete in Performance Boards. They will finish the week with a formal banquet and awards.  Dance Excellence is an International event and the dancers have opportunities to make friends with dancers from around the world.  Family members are also encouraged to attend.

Morita’s School of Dance offers two large studios, a comfortable waiting area for parents and the Happy Feet Boutique dancewear shop.  Studio space may also be rented for birthday and anniversary parties, bridal and baby showers, weddings receptions or business seminars.

Morita’s School of Dance offers classes in Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Pointe, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Mommy or Daddy & Me, Musical Theater, Acro, Zumba, Ballroom and Yoga.  Classes are offered for ages 2 through adult.  

The Stars Dance Team at the studio offers experience for dancers wanting more than just weekly classes and is for dancers first grade through college. The Stars Dance Team performs at local events, the Festival of Lights Parade, Hermon Summer Sizzler and Hampden Children’s Day as well as competitions around New England.

Classes begin in September and will have on-going registration.  Registration may be done on line at: moritasscoolofdance.net, msdancestudio68@hotmail.com or by calling the studio at 848-5083.

Morita’s daughter, Melody Murphy, teaches in the Washington DC area and continues to be actively involved in the studio here in Maine.  Denise Knowles, who grew up dancing at Morita’s School of Dance, is now in a full-time position as Assistant Director and Head Instructor at the studio. She teaches a variety of classes at the Hermon studio for all ages and directs the Milo location.  Denise is also the Coach for the UMO Dance Team.

All alumni of Morita’s School of Dance are invited to participate in the 50th Anniversary Production in May.  The studio would like at least 50 alumni perform. No one is ever too old to dance.

For more information, contact Morita’s School of Dance and speak to Miss Morita, Director, or Miss Denise, Assistant Director. moritasschoolofdance.net, msdancestudio68@hotmail.com or by phone at 848- 5083.

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