News from the Desert Stars

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

The Desert Stars had several performances in November and December of 2014. The troupe is under the direction of Patsy Chase who started The Desert Stars in 1997. The group’s motto is clogging with a flair. She and her husband, Bud, came to live in Tucson in 1980 and built a home in SaddleBrooke in 1991. After owning her own dance studio in Maine for 28 years and giving countless dance lessons, Patsy has come to know many successful dancers over the years. Dancing has been her passion since she was five years old. Patsy attributes her love of dance and dance career to her mother.

However, not many people know that Patsy also once had a passion for motorcycling! When she was 72 she and Bud traveled east and west for a two month long motorcycle trip. In order to encourage Patsy to go on the trip Bud made arrangements to stop by and visit with many of her former dance students. The trip was described as, in Bud’s words, “A sort of cross-country connect the dots.” It gave Patsy an opportunity to say hello to many of her dedicated dance students, many with whom she still stays in contact. A hip replacement in December 2013 has not dampened her love of dance and her love of teaching dance. She currently has a clog/tap group of five SaddleBrooke women residents who meet every Monday and Thursday morning from 7:00 until 8:00 a.m. The dancers have various dance/music/performance abilities. The dancers’ names and their respective dance experiences include:

Marilyn Mitchell – Marilyn danced and sang in shows during high school and college. She took a hiatus until she and her husband, Elvis, moved to SaddleBrooke where she resumed her dancing. She has been with The Desert Stars for 18 years.

Diane Rhoades – According to Diane, “Who would have guessed that my love of dance, being on a precision drill team in college and raising a family would lead me to dancing with The Desert Stars 40 years later?” Diane has been with The Desert Stars for 18 years.

Barbara Sullivan – Barbara has a background in ballet (en pointe), modern jazz and hula! She was a member of a performing Swedish folk dance troupe in college. Barbara has been with The Desert Stars for 12 years.

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg – Mary Jo had two years of adult tap dance lessons and was a member of the Manhattan Dance Company, which performed frequently during the year. After she and her husband moved to SaddleBrooke she took a year of clogging prior to joining The Desert Stars one year ago.

Tina Wrbanek – Tina was a Round Dance (choreographed ballroom dance) leader in the Chicagoland area for 15 years before moving to SaddleBrooke. After moving she continued in the Tucson area for 10 years. Tina has been with The Desert Stars for 13 years.

The husbands of the ladies also help with the programs. John Wrbanek plays the music, Dan Rhoades is the M.C., Elvis Mitchell is a dedicated fan and attends all programs and Bud Chase does the photography.