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Curtain Call: Audrey Flint spreads the joy of dancing to seniors

Audrey Flint of Talent teaches a class of students in what she calls her Boomers and Beyond program. She teaches for both Ashland Parks and Rec and for OLLI. Submitted photo

Audrey Flint never planned a career in dance. It just evolved organically.

She started taking ballet, modern and tap dance lessons at the age of 7. She performed in dance productions and musicals in high school, and started choreographing dance in college.

“My mom ran a dance studio in Berkley so I ended up teaching there,” she said. “After she passed away, I took over the business for a while before I moved to Oregon.”

Flint, 63, has kept very busy on the dance scene since moving to the Rogue Valley in 1992. She created a full theater and dance program for Willow Wind Community Learning Center not long after she arrived.

She put on big dance productions twice a year with her students at Ashland High School’s Mountain Theater. Also early on, she choreographed for many local shows and was one of the resident choreographers at Camelot Theatre under the leadership of Livia Genise.

These days she teaches dance classes for Ashland Parks and Recreation and for OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute). Plus, she works with seniors in her Broadway Dance for Boomers and Beyond program.

“I mostly like teaching jazz and Broadway style dance,” she said. “Although I also do a dance class called Funk It Up, based on oldies and Motown music.”

On the journey that eventually led her to the Rogue Valley, she had a multifaceted career.

The teaching started early, during her college years at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she majored in theater arts.

“I taught a tap class to some of the students and teachers,” she said. “One of my students was Tom Lehrer, the songwriter who also taught part-time at the university.”

That led to teaching tap in her mother’s studio and running dance programs in area high schools.

She had many gigs as a professional dancer in her early years, including doing musical theater for several years when she lived on the east coast in her 20s.

One of those jobs had an interesting turn of events. She was hired as a dancer for a New England theater company but ended up as a choreographer.

“I was performing in summer stock theater in Massachusetts,” she said. “At the beginning of the season, the choreographer quit, so I took over and choreographed six big musicals that summer.”

She’s had some interesting jobs abroad as well. She did a stint in Albania where she taught dance to students ages 3 to 18 at an international school. And while living in London, she was cast in a movie for a non-dance role.

She was born in New York City and raised from age 2 in Berkeley, growing up in a family of alternative school educators.

“The school I attended was full of dance, theater and the arts,” she said.

That kind of environment and exposure to the arts surely encouraged her creativity. But she probably has the dance gene in her DNA as well. Her mother was a tap dancer for the USO in the 1940s.

When she and her husband at the time moved to Southern Oregon, they had a young child, and were looking for a change.

“We were ready to settle in the beautiful Rogue Valley,” she said. “I had no plans to start any dance programs at the time. I was in early mom mode.”

The baby has grown up and Flint is back at it, kicking up her heels and teaching others how to do it.

“My main goal is for people to enjoy dancing and moving their bodies in a safe way — and for them to feel accomplishment,” she said. “The music is a big part of my teaching. It’s familiar and reminiscent, so it’s also inspiring.”

Does she have side gigs to help pay the bills?

“Absolutely,” she said. “I dabble in some real estate investments. And though I taught for many years in the school district, I was always on a part-time basis, so I needed other income to support my creative teaching and choreography work.”

Any regrets? Not really, but she did have one of those “what might have been” moments.

“When I lived in London, I was in the middle of callback auditions and it looked like I was going to be hired for a West End big musical, ’42nd Street.’ But I had to move back to the U.S. suddenly for family reasons. I always wonder what it would have been like to spend time doing West End musicals.”

Meanwhile, she continues to spread the joy of dancing in her many classes throughout the year. For more information and to sign up for Ashland Parks and Rec classes, go to ashland.or.us and click on the department’s link. To sign up for her OLLI classes (she’s teaching this fall), Google OLLI at SOU, or contact her by email at 99flint@gmail.com.

Reach freelance writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.