Dixie Smith: show goes on - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dixie Smith: show goes on

by Sunny Layne

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- In the words of dance great Gene Kelly, some people just "gotta dance," and Waterloo-native Dixie Smith is one of them. In fact, she's been dancing for more than 70 years. She hopes last year's floods won't keep her from teaching others to dance.

Dixie Smith is someone you should know.

"If you're not perspiring, you didn't work hard."
She's strict...
"You're going to turn left."
She's exact...
"That looks good."
And she loves her students.
"It's fun when you get a trick right," student Juli Kohlmeyer said. "You feel like you've accomplished something. Then she gives you another trick and you accomplish that."
Dixie Smith of "Dixie's School of Dance and Tumbling" has taught dance for 57 years.
"I just knew if she was going to take lessons, she'd have to take them from Dixie," parent Kathy Stephens said. 
74-year-old Smith has taught these children, some of their parents, and some of their grandparents - three generations!
"Kids will say, 'Dixie yelled at me!' parents will say, 'Tough, she yelled at me too. Just get over it.'" Smith said. "And grandma says the same thing. So it's kind of fun."
"She's nice and fun," Kohlmeyer said. "She can be strict because she just wants us to get the trick right."
Everyone agrees on the strength of Smith's character, but nothing could match the strength of the Floods of 2008, which damaged her dance building in downtown Waterloo.
"Find a place or retire," she said.
Her classes now meet in the basement of the Masonic Temple.
She says she applied for help at different organizations, but was told she didn't make enough money, and was too old to qualify.
"My kids would like me to retire, but I'd go stir crazy after a month," she said.
But this life-long dancer knows the show must go on.
"I like it when something clicks and the light bulb goes off all the things you've been saying make sense," she said.

She plans to continue teaching, and who knows? Maybe she'll even reach a 4th generation.
Dixie Smith's students will have their dance recital Saturday, May 30th at East High School in Waterloo.

For the summer, Dixie Smith will teach tumbling at the YWCA, but she still hopes to get help in returning to her flood-damaged building in Waterloo.

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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