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Creating art through dance

St. Peter woman finds joy through expressive, traditional Spanish dance 

By Carlienne A. Frisch

Molly Kay Stoltz performs the flamenco, a traditional dance of Andalusia -- an area located in southern Spain. Contributed photo

When we think of the music that makes us begin tapping our toes and, perhaps, swaying our hips, we may begin humming a tune that we learned during our childhood—perhaps a song of Scandinavian or German origin. 

What moves Molly Kay Stoltz’ feet—and heart—is flamenco music and dance. The St. Peter resident and mother of a two-year-old son, she is a dancer with Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre in  Minneapolis, as well as a teacher and choreographer of flamenco, the traditional dance of Andalusia, an area of southern Spain.  

 Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre, which was founded in 1982 by Susana di Palma, creates and performs a piece of choreography to tell an original story or a story based on a poem or a fairy tale. Although Stoltz credits her growth in performance skills to di Palma’s mentorship, one might say that Stoltz has been dancing all of her life. She began performing to musical rhythms when she was enrolled in tap and ballet classes as a three year old in Dickinson, North Dakota. Her interest was evident at an early age and that continued as she grew. 

While in high school, Stoltz began choreographing (designing the steps for) dances for in-class performances. Later, as a student at the University of Minnesota, she studied various kinds of dance—tap, ballet and modern. She explained, “I quit ballet in college. You don’t have to do ballet to do other dance.”  

Stoltz has taught as a professor of tap dancing in the University of Minnesota’s dance program and teaches tap dance at Ballare Teatro Performing Arts Center in South Minneapolis, as well as teaching through community education programs. She also has been employed as a therapeutic recreation specialist for seniors in group settings.

Flamenco dancing involves expressive body movements and facial expressions. Molly Kay Stoltz performs the flamenco, a traditional dance of Andalusia -- an area located in southern Spain. Contributed photo

Stoltz is a 2009 graduate of the Bachelor of Science Fine Arts program at the University of Minnesota, where she focused on tap and jazz dance as her major, and earned a minor in history.

“I enjoy reading and writing about history in general, but especially the history of dance,” she said. “I researched and wrote about Mura Dehn, a Russian immigrant who made films about jazz dance from the 1950s and 1960s through the 1980s. After college, I auditioned for an apprentice program with Zorongo Flamenco in the Twin Cities. I did not know much about flamenco when I joined, but I learned as an apprentice.”

As a company member of Zorongo Flying Foot Forum, Stoltz takes part in traditional flamenco performances in the Twin Cities and other communities in the Metro area, as well as in communities throughout southern Minnesota. She also continues choreography, designing dance step sequences. Her choreography has been performed by numerous dance groups throughout Minnesota, as well as in Chicago. (Performance opportunities arise at choreographers’ events.)

Before dedicating time to motherhood, Stoltz enjoyed offering dance-based exercise classes as therapeutic recreation in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Now, when Stoltz teaches flamenco, her nearly two-year-old son, William, remains at home with his father, Chase Burkhart, who is a music teacher Stoltz met online. But Stoltz has plans for introducing William to dance.   

“I’m sure William would cause havoc in a dance class now, but at some point we’ll try it out,” she said.  Perhaps William will begin dancing when he turns three, as his mother did.

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