Donna Bishop and her mother hurried into their tap dance class workshop right at start time, the only students to grab chairs to sit in and slip on their shoes.
Bishop, 62, and Wanda Schroder, 87, went through the same series of stretches as every other student in an Allan Hancock College dance studio.
They had dressed for the occasion in black, sequined clothes, silently going over the moves to the tap dance Schroder had choreographed to an Akon hip-hop song titled “Sexy B****.”
Bishop, a counselor at Hancock, smiled and patiently waited for the duo’s turn to dance for a chance to perform in a college-wide Workshop Night. Schroder, on the other hand, focused and worried that the two weren’t ready.
Although the Santa Maria mother and daughter enrolled in the credit class this fall for fun, Schroder couldn’t quite shake the competitive attitude of a dancer who has practiced her craft since age 6.
“I just never lost it,” Schroder told Noozhawk in a recent interview. “I just wanted to dance.”
Schroder realized her talent at a young age and even rode her bicycle to houses during the Great Depression as a 13-year-old to teach dance lessons in her Oregon hometown.
Bishop is quick to compliment her mother’s ability, mentioning that Schroder danced for nearly 20 years with a group in San Luis Obispo.
When Schroder moved to Santa Maria from San Luis Obispo in January, she was looking for an activity to keep her busy. Bishop found the area’s only available tap dance class, which happened to be at her place of employment.
In Bishop’s office this month, the two casually bantered back and forth about the class in which they’re far and away the oldest students.
“I’m not nearly as good as she is,” said Bishop, who is brand new to tap dancing. “It’s like learning a language. She’s being patient.”
Schroder nearly objected before shrugging and letting a smile cross her face.
Schroder said she quit dancing three years ago because her balance and memory aren’t what they used to be. Bishop countered by noting that Schroder has a nice solo in their dance to a song they picked because they liked the beat.
“I’m not a show off,” Schroder said.
“I wish she would show off more,” Bishop joked. “It’s fun.”
The duo performed so well during the class workshop this month that Hancock instructor Monique Segura invited them to move on and perform in the college-wide workshop last week.
“They did a good job,” Segura said. “The kids are so supportive of them, too. I enjoy having them, and I think they definitely bring a wide diversity to our class that shows tolerance, not only among differences and dance styles but the ages.”
Bishop and Schroder, who said they were stunned to be chosen, said they’re considering taking a jazz class with Segura next semester because they had so much fun.
Bishop’s only complaint is that she works full time, so she gets a little tired going to class after a full day.
“I get tired because I’m old,” Schroder said, laughing.
“We’re not too old,” Bishop added. “We can keep up.”
Click below to see Donna and Wanda’s dance moves.