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Dancing with Dino
“Raise up, and pretty hands come down like you’re a porcelain doll. Then bring you’re shoulders down,” artistic director Dino Rendon softly commanded.
Standing on tip-toes, the two girls focused on their reflections in the wall-sized mirror and carefully moved into position.
“Good, very good!” he said, happily, at Wednesday night’s ballet lesson.
Since becoming the owner of the Rhythm of Art Dance Studio, Rendon has instructed Megan Keating, 8, and Cecilia Oppor, 12, in ballet and lyrical jazz. In a recent six-week span, he and instructor Ami Timm trained Oppor for a national competition in Seattle, where she took gold.
Although his studio has only been open since September, accolades have been pouring in for “Rhythm of Art.”
Students describe Rendon as “tough” but “fun.”
“At the Whidbey Playhouse they call him the Pied Piper, because kids will just follow him around,” Timm said.
Rendon said he dreamed of opening a studio in Oak Harbor after leaving Las Vegas in mid 2006. He left a high paying job as a slots manager at the Venetian Hotel for his “new adventure.”
“I realized that I was turning 50. And all of my talents, I hadn’t used for 14 years,” Rendon said.
But no facilities were available for rent at the time. It was chance that he stumbled across the newly vacated Academy of Dance last year, and he took over.
He was soon approached by the Whidbey Playhouse to stage choreography for plays such as “Guys and Dolls,” “Footloose” and “Willy Wonka Jr.” It was there he met Timm, whose daughter was in the play.
“We formed a bond and we have a lot of the same ideas. We each stay up on current things, like what’s going on with hip hop,” Timm said.
Together, they teach classes in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical jazz, hip hop and ballroom. Rendon said he favors lyrical jazz, which he studied at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
His teaching career began in 1980, and he moved from such studios as Joyce School of Dance, Judy Dryman Gingham Girls Dance Studio and Townsen School of Dance, as the head of the jazz department.
“I’ve been interested in dance since I was 6 or 7,” Rendon said. “I remember watching American Bandstand and other musicals on TV. I even used to have dreams about dance.”
When writing out choreography, he said he can see entire dance numbers in his head. On Saturdays, he teaches free basic theater dance and movement classes for the Whidbey Playhouse.
He will offer more free instruction this fall for Broad View Elementary’s enrichment program.
“I love teaching,” Rendon said. “I want to teach dances for the parades and do shows at the retirement homes.”
The high energy instructor has big plans for the Oak Harbor, and taking page from his own life, tells his students that anything is possible.
Ten-year-old Cayleigh Moon said his enthusiasm is helping her find her niche in dancing again.
“I used to take hip hop and tumbling at another dance studio but it was hard to put everything together. We would learn six different dances at a time. I got frustrated,” Moon said. “I think it’s more organized here. If you’re having trouble with a part, he’ll go over it again until you get better.”
Classes for students begin at age 3 to adult and Rhythm of Art Dance Studio is located at 749 SE Fidalgo, Suite 101 (The Old Town Mall Upper Level).