ReCreation Tappers of Southwest Florida: A brief history
In 2000, Wisconsin native Pat Vogelsang and her husband Paul moved to Marco Island, Fla., to enjoy their retirement. Pat’s interest in the arts – tap dance in particular – led her to search for adult tap classes. While she found some at community centers in Naples, the only studio on Marco Island did not offer adult classes.
In 2003, her enjoyment of tap dancing intensifying, Pat determined to create an adult tap program on Marco Island. She rented space at Island Dance Academy, hired a Naples teacher and advertised the classes. By 2006, the Marco Island adult tap program was robust enough to turn over to Natalie Strafford, owner and operator of Island Dance Academy, who began offering two adult tap classes weekly during southwest Florida’s busy winter season.
Meanwhile, in 2004, Pat had recruited family members and friends to found the non-profit ReCreation Tappers of Southwest Florida. In 2005, the fledgling organization hired an artistic director to produce an audition tape to submit to Naples’ Fifth Avenue Association in hopes of being included in the popular “Evening on Fifth” live entertainment programs. The audition tape was a success, and the Portable Performance Troupe (PPT) was born.
In the years since, ReCreation Tappers has grown to approximately 120 members. In our recent seasons, some 40 members participated in a variety of public and private performances in the greater Naples area and on Marco Island, including the Naples Christmas Parade, Christmas tree lighting and Mardi Gras festival.
Artistic Director and Vice President/Program Judi Baruck took on her leading role in the organization in 2007 and quickly became its popular, creative driving force. She has shepherded development of a number of adult dance classes in Naples, recruited talented area instructors into the organization and ensured a rich and varied program of Master Classes that makes ReCreation Tappers the envy of adult dance organizations nationwide.
Pat Vogelsang continues to indulge her passion for tap in her hometown of Milwaukee, in New York City and in the greater Naples/Marco area.