‘Miss Donna’: Celebrated dance teacher plans community variety show

Donna Schinderle, owner of Donna’s School of Dance, poses with students at her Kingsford studio. From left, back, are Roslyn Westcott, Schinderle, Kairi Casey and Leanne Trulock; middle, Avery Ehlert, Aria Casey, Madelyn Trulock, Eliana Ehlert and Brynna Rice; front, Westin Gruss and Addison Sleik. Donna’s School of Dance, which is celebrating 59 years as a professional studio, is organizing a community variety show June 9 in Kingsford. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photos)

KINGSFORD — What’s an anniversary without a party?

For Donna’s School of Dance, the party is a community variety show in June and everyone’s invited.

“Variety Show Blast Off” is set for Saturday, June 9, at the Kingsford High School Auditorium.

Singers, dancers and musicians are all asked to perform, especially former students of Donna’s School of Dance, which is celebrating 59 years as a professional studio. For those who simply want to attend, tickets for the community benefit will be sold for $10 in advance and $15 at the door. A 1 p.m. matinee and 7 p.m. evening show are in the works.

Schinderle, better know as Miss Donna, began teaching dance at Judy’s Dance Studio when she was a sophomore in high school. Just a year later, Schinderle’s teacher, Judy Betine, was suffering from bad knees and decided to get out of the business. Betine asked Schinderle if she was interested in purchasing the studio and that was the beginning of Donna’s School of Dance.

Donna Schinderle

Although the location changed several times over nearly six decades, Schinderle’s enthusiasm to dance never wavered. She started her studio in the old Kingsford Drugs building teaching tap, ballet and jazz classes for all ages.

From there she moved to the Mellon Clinic, then the old Andreini building and after marriage to her husband, the late Raymond Schinderle, she gave lessons out of her residence on East I Street. “I taught at home so I could be a mom and still have a career,” Schinderle said. After 10 years of teaching in her neighborhood, a legal battle over parking pushed her into constructing a new building on Pyle Drive in Kingsford, her current location.

Students from Donna’s School of Dance have been competing and winning in regional and national competitions for decades. “I enjoy what I do. I enjoy the little ones,” she said.

“I have some little ones right now that are outstanding,” Schinderle added, noting they have several upcoming competitions scheduled, culminating with a national event in July in Wisconsin Dells, Wis.

The success of the studio prompted Schinderle to want to give back. She decided to turn this year’s annual recital into a variety show with all proceeds going to community charities including the Caring House shelter and the general scholarship program at Kingsford High School.

Using examples of previous local shows such as the “Lions Roar” and “Juke Box Memories,” this years program will host a variety of talent from the area.

“We are looking for something exciting, for musicians, for local talent to add that variety,” said Schinderle adding that she hopes former students from Donna’s School of Dance will participate. “Wouldn’t it be great if I had 59 of them,” she said.

Schinderle said she has been reaching out to some of her older students. “Most of them said they are out of shape, but I think a few of them might come.” And of course, if they are interested, Schinderle will be more than happy to work with them and create a routine. “Maybe I’ll even put my shoes on a do a little “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” she said.

Schinderle’s husband, who was often an extra in her recitals, passed away four months ago. “For years he did Johnny Cash and ‘Santa Wear Your Shorts.’ I know he is looking down from above and I know he would be thrilled about this, “ she said. “I’m excited and ready for the challenge to put on a great show.”

For more information on the event, or to set up an audition, call Donna’s School of Dance at 906-774-4868 or email schinderle@att.net.

Theresa Proudfit can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 45, or tproudfit@ironmountaindailynews.com.