|Midtown History: Flo Beaudoin
Written by Annette Ashton
|IGenerations of Peninsula residents have benefited from the joy of dance and talents of the legendary Flo Beaudoin. Stepping into her Midtown Colorado Avenue studio is like coming home. Dozens of snapshots of newlyweds and tiny tots adorn the walls and reception area with copies of the many news articles that have documented the Beaudoin's years of success. It is estimated between 30,000 and 60,000 students of dance have studied here, some for as long as 10 years. Whether it be tap, ballet, swing, ballroom, tango, salsa, this is the place to learn it. Flo dishes up old world charm and words of wisdom over dance lessons and in her "On Your Toes" newsletter. (MRA website has several extracts at www.midtownresidents.org.)
The story has been told many times of the origins of the studio built during the heart of the depression in 1932. Flo's husband, Heston Beaudoin's family came to Palo Alto from Utah in 1923. "We drove into Palo Alto at night and came down University Avenue. The streetlights were arches. It was like driving through a tunnel of lights. It was fascinating to see all these lights. It was a beautiful town. We fell in love with it because of the trees."
|Heston and his father built the dance studio in the heart of what was then all orchards. He and his young wife Mabel taught dance, had puppet shows and plays. They declared "Rhythm is our Business".
Flo a native of Canada, came to California at 16 months old. She has loved dancing since childhood. Flo came to Heston's studio to learn tap dance. She fondly remembers her first visit to the studio waiting for the dance instructor, Heston, who was pumping gas at the family's small country store & gas station at the corner of Cowper and Marion. "Bread was a dime, milk was a nickel a quart, coffee was 39 cents a pound." At that time, Heston had 10 studios including Redwood City, Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Pasa Tiempo. Flo started to teach tots when an instructor quit, and romance developed after Mabel died in childbirth. In 1941 Flo and Heston were married. The community celebrated 70 years of dance in their studio in 1992. Heston died in 1995, but Flo still does what she loves so well - teaching dance to tots through seniors!
Flo reports dance is making a comeback - for fitness, fun, companionship, or balance. There is a trend of couples taking ballroom dance lessons a few weeks before their wedding for that all important first dance. "Men have the most important role in dance; they must listen to the music, work the steps out, lead their partner and make them look good." Flo helps men do just that. Another trend is from women who want to surprise their husbands or friends with a dance lesson. Flo keeps the music current and is constantly on the look out (movies, radio, TV) for a new tune with a good beat. She bemoans the way some little girls dress like Brittany Spears and the lack of manners.
A quote from the web site says it all: If we are indifferent to the art of dancing, we have failed to understand not merely the supreme manifestation of physical life, but also the supreme symbol of spiritual life. (Havelock Ellis).
MRA Home Page