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Tue, Oct. 15

PV dancer inherits mothers' passion for dance and longevity

Courtesy<br>
Sue Koehl takes a break from teaching at a studio in Anthem.

Courtesy<br> Sue Koehl takes a break from teaching at a studio in Anthem.

For Prescott Valley dance teacher Sue Koehl, dancing is in her blood.

"I've danced since I was a fetus," said Koehl, 64.

The daughter of a professional dancer who toured on the RKO dance circuit in the 1930s, Koehl moved to the area about 11 years ago, running a studio on Florentine Avenue for a few years, and she now teaches classes in Anthem and through the Prescott Valley Recreation Department.

Her mother, named Ruth Blodgett during her professional career, trained and lived in New York City before marrying and moving to Toledo, Ohio, where she grew up and opened her own studio.

Koehl said she started teaching at her mother's dance studio at the age of 16, and took over managing the studio at 21.

"As I grew older, I really had the desire to be a nurse, and she said 'absolutely not, because you would fall apart.' So I've been a dancer ever since, and it's been a blessing. I love children," she said.

In the 1970s, Koehl said she commuted back and forth from Toledo to New York City to teach winter and summer workshops for Broadway and television dancer Danny Hoctor and directed choreograph for Hoctor's dance tours.

Through the bulk of her work involving jazz and ballet to young children, Koehl said working with kids keeps her vibrant and feeling youthful.

"I guess I take that from my mother. My mother used to keep company with younger people, like at the studio, and the children, it definitely keeps you younger," she said.

"Never do I ever go to work where the day is the same. I work with little ones all the way through adults. I'm one of the very few people that can say I enjoy going to work."

Koehl said her mother, who relocated to the area for a few years to live with her, continued to help her in the studio until the age of 91, and moved back to Ohio to spend her last few months before she died three years later.

"She was an Ohio girl, born and raised, her whole life was there, and she did not want to pass away in Arizona," she said.

Koehl said physically and mentally, she doesn't feel at all her age, mentioning she can still touch her forehead with her toes.

"I'm not a normal, what you would think of a 64-year-old. I went to my class reunion, and it was just astonishing to me how they were just sitting there listening to their arteries harden."

Contact the reporter at lmclain@prescottaz.com

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