MoTown Strutters keep their love of dance alive

MORGANTOWN — Never dance for money. Give back to the community. Always smile. Those lessons still ring in the minds of Virginia Chittom’s former dance students. Her dance studio in Morgantown instilled a love of dance in a generation of children.
Now, over 50 years later, her former students know she’d be proud to see them still dancing to give back to the community she loved as the senior tap-dancing group known as The MoTown Strutters.
Debbie Libertore West said she began dancing at Virginia Chittom’s school of dance at 3. After dancing her way through childhood and then becoming a dance teacher, she inspired many other pupils to love the art, but she never lost the joy of simply tap dancing with friends.
“Y got together and said we needed to tap,” she said. “So, we looked for a place to tap. We couldn’t find a place, so we ended up at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Patteson Drive. I’m a former member of the Service League, and at the time, there was a lady who was a member of that church. She said we could dance downstairs.
“Mind you, there were no mirrors. The floor was not really conducive to tap, but we started there. … But, then, I’d see people I’d know and ask if they wanted to come tap with us.”
West said the group began to grow as more ladies joined the bi-weekly tap sessions, eventually held once a week at Morgantown Dance Studio, where West teaches, and once a week at Senior Mons.
“People I would see would come and tap with us,” she said. “We can take new members, but the only thing is they have to know how to tap.”
West said the group of performance-loving senior ladies knew their passion for dance could give back to the community, as Virginia had once taught them.

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