Maeva (Keller) Naylor
It was not an easy road but Maeva never gave up on her dream. At five years old,
Maeva began dance class with Doris Mae Weber on the third floor of her home across
from the firehouse in Wapakoneta. Warren Keller (Maeva’s older brother) worked
downtown Wapakoneta at Uhlman’s Department Store and bought Maeva her first leotard.
Doris Mae and Maeva performing “In A Modern Mood” from the Doris Mae’s Dance Review.
Maeva performed in her first recital when she was five years old. Doris Mae’s recital was performed at the Wapak Theatre where she performed to “Oh You Beautiful Doll”. The music for the recitals at that time was live due to the fact there were no records back then. Doris Mae
played the piano for practices and for the recital there was a pianist,
guitar player, and a drummer.
When asked during her freshman year of high school what she wanted to do with her life, right then she knew she wanted to teach dance. Maeva danced with Doris Mae until she was about thirteen years old when Doris Mae closed her studio to move with her husband Kenny, who was in the service at the time. Maeva then studied in Lima, Ohio with Mildred Albray for a couple of years until Doris Mae returned and opened her studio again in the basement of her home on Glynwood Road. Maeva continued her childhood dance education with Doris Mae until she graduated from high school.
Maeva Keller (Naylor) in The Dance Review on May 6, 1955
Coming from a family with five children money was a bit tight and a higher college education was not considered. It was not an easy road but Maeva never gave up. Not knowing how to get started, in the fall of 1959, at just 19 years old, Maeva (Keller) Naylor bravely opened her first dance studio (Maeva’s School of Dance) in the Armory in St. Marys, Ohio with an enrollment of 25 students. Lesson fees were $1.25 an hour or $5.00 per month.
The Early Years
Wanting to teach her dancers the latest and greatest dance techniques
Maeva would drive every week for fifteen years to Dayton, Ohio to study
with Rita Hoefler and her daughter Roxanne. She studied with the Nationa
l Association of Dance and affiliated with Artists of Columbus and Dance
Educators out of New York. Maeva also attended Gymnastic programs at
Michigan State University and dance educational programs at the Dance
Caravan Inc. in Chicago. Maeva studied with Gus Giordano of Chicago for
his exceptional jazz technique along with Art Stone, and Danny Hoctor
with Hoctor’s workshops out of New York. Maeva also was a guest
teacher at Dance Conventions in Columbus. Maeva would spend countless
weekends and summers studying with the best in dance and tumbling
instruction all over the United States. With all that along with her own
studio, she still took time to do choreography for New Hampshire Minstrels,
WHS musicals, and Maeva performed in the Lima Encore Theatre as well
as Wapak Theatre Guild. She continued with her education until she retired.
She didn’t just want to have a dance school; she wanted the children
she taught to understand the arts.
A couple of years later, Maeva opened a second studio on the third floor of the Wapakoneta Theatre Building. Her annual performances began at the Wapakoneta High School (which is currently Wapakoneta Middle School). Beginning with records being played while performing at Wapakoneta High School and the lights becoming so hot it began to warp the records. Tumbling mats were hard to find so foam mattresses were used for tumbling.
Maeva married in the fall of 1959 to Richard Naylor and had three daughters. Sherry (born in 1960), Kim (born in 1961), and Debra (born in 1962). In the 1960’s it was difficult for working mothers, as there were no day-care centers and Maeva suffered from great guilt with working 4:00-10:00 pm during the week and raising a family.
Maeva studied continuously throughout her career. “For a dancer… being in class never ends because dance choreography is always changing”.
After 10 years of teaching in both St Marys and Wapakoneta and
with an enrollment of approximately 200 students,
Maeva decided it was time to combine the two studios and moved her
dance studio to the basement of her new home
on Park Drive in Wapakoneta, Ohio where she taught for the next 24 years.
Quickly outgrowing the high school auditorium, she moved her performances to the St. Joseph Catholic School gymnasium. With the move to St. Joe School, Maeva had a dream of professional lighting, but it was quite a venture to turn a gym into a stage. Working with Bob Knostman from Minster, he helped her dream to come true. Working continuously for seven days prior to the show Bob, Joe Schlater, Maeva and Richard, as well as many others, would turn St Joe gym floor into an amazing stage while the actual stage was used for tap numbers. Bringing in extra lighting caused the city to erect a second electrical pole so fuses would not be blown.
Maeva has been through everything that could go wrong from sound going down, costume malfunctions, and stage fright in small children, but through it all Maeva has always given 100% and learning from her mistakes. She states “You see the show come together and all those wonderful children…so rewarding and exciting. I cannot imagine any other career being more rewarding than mine. I feel more blessed than words can express”.
While at St. Joe the audience grew so much the dancers would perform one night for parents and perform three shows to sold-out crowds. Maeva never wanted her recital to be just a recital. She wanted her audiences to experience a real show. To have her show be as professional as possible with the resources that are available in a small community.
This Is My America -1972
Then the big move from Park Drive in 1986 with over 300 students
to a stunning 6,000 square foot facility with 3 teaching rooms, a
beautiful lobby and office area facility at 803 Fairview Drive in
Wapakoneta, Ohio. This allowed for a number of opportunities
including her increasing student enrollment and provided the
best dance education possible for all of her students. The studio
continued to grow and Maeva’s daughter, Deb joined the business
and Maeva’s School of Dance became M|Dance Centre’.
Debra (Naylor) Schlenker, Maeva Naylor, & Richard Naylor
Grand Opening of the new studio on Fairview Drive, Wapakoneta
Over the next 18 years, M|Dance Centre’ continued to grow adding yet another expansion of 3,200 square feet taking over the adjacent building and adding two more studio rooms, The Dance Centre’ added a competition team and a pre-dance program and grew to almost 500 students. With that growth the studio became too big to perform at St Joseph school any longer and when the Veterans Memorial and Civic Center in Lima, Ohio opened the performances moved which allowed for the student’s performances to being more professional than ever before.
On October 14, 1987 Maeva was presented with
the Business & Professional Woman of the Year Award.
Maeva has always wanted to bring a love for the arts to her community just as a coach wants to bring a passion for athletics as to his athletes. Maeva taught all her dancers not only a dance education, but confidence, self-esteem, and to be responsible as well.
In 2003, Pamela and Tabitha Houston merged their already wonderful studio with M\Dance Centre’ to one amazing diverse place to study and pursue the love of dance and The Dance Centre’ was established. Nothing could have been better and what an opportunity for all dance students as well as our community.
TDC teachers attend classes in New York City
Pamela Houston started her dance studio, Pamela Houston School of Dance, in 1974 in the Radio Hospital Arcade in Lima, Ohio. After 5 years of teaching so many wonderful students there, she and her husband, Tom, moved to Wapakoneta where she opened up her studio in their home. After several years, they purchased 2 buildings in downtown Wapakoneta which allowed her to accept more students with the help of several instructors. At that time, she changed the name of the studio to Houston Dance Studio. Pam enjoyed 29 years teaching hundreds of students to love dance at Houston Dance Studio with the help from many instructors that she trained along the way, as well as her daughters, Tawney and Tabitha. Pam also enjoyed having a competitive dance team in which she and her instructors saw their competitive dancers win many top awards at competitions regionally as well as nationally. She and her instructors also won many top choreography awards. Among many special memories are those spent at nationals across the U.S. with the dancers and their families cheering each other on and enjoying some vacation time together.
In 2002, Houston Dance Studio and MDance Centre’ merged their students and teaching staff to form one united studio, The Dance Centre’, dedicated to the love of this art form and the joy of educating many more dance students. As a team, The Dance Centre’ would continue to develop strong, talented dancers who have gone on to win awards across the country and to pursue careers in dance performance and become instructors.
In June 2014, many of Pam’s past instructors and alumni came and performed at the recital in honour of her 40th anniversary of dance. In June of 2015, after enjoying 13 years of teaching at TDC and 41 years total as a dance instructor, Pam retired and she and her husband moved to Savannah, GA.
Maeva and Pam instilled such a love for the arts in their students that several who get their own degree in their own career still can’t give up their love of dancing and do that through teaching.
Maeva retired after teaching for 52 years, but her legacy lives on. She still studies while travelling and visits shows and always comes back with an idea or two to give the staff.
At present, with 60 years experience, The Dance Centre’ is a leader in dance education and continues to grow with over 600 students while offering classes for ages 2-18 including Terrific Two’s, Dance 1, Combination classes, Hip Hop/ Flip Flop, Jazz\Hip Hop, Dance Fusion, Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Pointe, and Tumbling. TDC houses a phenomenal Competition Team with over 100 current competitive dancers who compete several times throughout the dance season and have won National Championship titles. TDC’s competition cheer team competes at statewide competitions.
The Dance Centre’ (TDC) also offers summer classes for all students (currently enrolled as well as those from the community that just want some summer fun. TDC also offers a free week of a variety of classes to all ages including adult classes.
Our students, families and staff are committed to provide community support by participating in local events such as Christmas Cheer, Wapakoneta Holiday Hometown, area nursing homes, Faith, Fit & Healthy, as well as participates in several local parades. The Dance Centre’ hosts their own community events such as sharing Random Acts of Kindness, hosting princess parties, and raising money for charity with Dance A Thons. The Dance Centre’ participates every year in the annual Wapakoneta Halloween Parade and has won awards each year. This past year with over 100 participants we were honoured with first place for the People’s Choice Award.
The Dance Centré instructors are professionally trained and experienced. They have studied with some of the top dancers and educators from California to New York and some have obtained their bachelor degree in Dance Education. They have trained with many accomplished dancers from amateur to professional! The Dance Centre’ also has staff certified in the World-renowned
Acrobatics Arts program. Many of their staff is also CPR and
First Aid certified.
Many alumni have gone on to achieve careers as professional dancers in venues such as Disney World in Florida, Tokyo, and Disneyland, California, in theatres in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Branson, Missouri and shows in Vegas and on cruise lines as well as amusement parks and college dance teams. Some of our students have even gone on to become dance instructors or studio owners. One alumni, Kent Boyd, went on to be 1st runner up in the show “So You Think You Can Dance” and won the hearts of America as well as having roles in Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2.
Whether it is for the sheer enjoyment of dance or to pursue dance as a profession, we strive to give each student a top-notch dance education which they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.
The Dance Centre’ staff are what makes TDC what it is today.
The Anniversary Celebration
After 59 years of teaching and thousands of students coming through these doors, we decided to celebrate all of our staff, students, and families who have dedicated so much time to The Dance Centre’ and have a separate celebration from the annual recital.
With almost 75 plus former dancers, beginning practices this past summer we have put together an amazing alumni show featuring dancers from the first students in the 1960’s to recent alumni. Alumni are coming in from all over the United States to be a part of this great celebration.
The show will feature tap, jazz, lyrical, tumbling and musical theatre routines all being performed by alumni as well as a special dance performed by the Dance Centre’ staff.
The show took place on November 30th at 4:00 pm. at the Wapakoneta High School Performing Arts Center located at 1 Redskin Trail.
To cap off this celebration, a dinner catered by JMaries of Wapakoneta began at 6:30 pm at the Grand Plaza, Wapakoneta with a small plate style dinner until 8:30 pm. There was lots of toasting to our staff, alumni, and families with some special surprises and music for dancing provided by Fox Entertainment throughout the evening.
Maeva’s School of Dance, M\Dance Centre’, Pamela Houston Dance Studio,
and The Dance Centre’ thanks our community for their support throughout the years.