The Cambrian

Arts opportunities for youth abound at TOGS

Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Shirley Temple
Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Shirley Temple WWW.DANCEHELP.COM

There was a time in our country when this picture would have been identifiable to every man, woman and child who saw it —and they would have smiled in seeing the black gentleman and the delightful curly-haired 7-year-old girl. While our nation was suffering under the Great Depression, the public sought escape from their hard lives by going to the movies.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson had a long and successful career as a hoofer. Shirley Temple was a household name throughout the nation and the world. They were an incandescent duo at a time when affectionate, physical contact between blacks and whites was not allowed in movies.

On screen, Shirley had the wondrous ability to radiate sheer happiness; she was everything Depression-era parents wanted their children to be. Young girls across America wanted to have tap dance lessons and be like Shirley.

Jeff and Shirley Mar owned a ballet company in Los Angeles. Jeff was musical director for The Lettermen, a popular singing ’60s singing group. He later mixed and edited sound and music for motion pictures. As a dancer and choreographer for film, stage and television, Shirley Kirkes Mar had a long and successful career.

After moving to Cambria in 1996, Shirley responded to a newspaper ad. She is now the Master ballet and tap instructor and choreographer for Class Act Dance in Paso Robles.

The Allied Arts Association has supported the arts in Cambria since 1948. This summer, under the guidance of volunteers Shirley Kirkes Mar, Jeff Mar, Dan O’Neill and Coast Union 2010 graduate Anna Green, the Association is providing a workshop devoted to giving participants an improved vocabulary in dance (including tap), music and acting—whether their focus is singing, acting, instrumental music or dancing. Projects will span many time periods and styles.

The workshop will take place mostly at TOGS (the Theatre at the Old Grammar School, 1350 Main St.).

Along with Shirley, Jeff and Dan, guests from a variety of disciplines have been contributing. The workshop is an excellent opportunity for middle-school students and older to take advantage of the expertise and skills Shirley, Jeff and Dan have gained over the years.

Plans have been made to revive the Cambria Drum Corps and “Feet With a Beat” (tap dancing by the drum corps) to participate in the Pinedorado Parade and at Coast Union High School football games.

The Saturday performances will be before the family movies at TOGS at 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Future activities planned by Allied Arts:

• July 17–Works in progress by the Summer Musical Workshop, and the movie “Happy Feet” at 3 p.m.

• July 24 –The movie “Avatar.” 3 p.m.

• July 31–Works in progress and an open mic for the public, backed by a live combo.

• Aug. 7 –Movie “Moulin Rouge.”

• These activities at TOGS are FREE, but donations are greatly appreciated. For more information, call 927- 8190 or go to“With all the enthusiasm displayed

by the current participants, the workshop might produce Cambria’s own crop of Shirley Temples,” Jeff said with a smile.

Tap dancing is a delightful form of entertainment. Shirley Temple made her movie debut at the age of 3; she and Bill Robinson made four endearing films together.

E-mail John Brannon at