Sarah “Sally” Soosalu, a resident of St. John’s Home for nearly four years, has an impressive former career that led two of her students into the spotlight. Co-owner of Marion and Sally’s School of Dance, her love for performing since the age of 5 took her on the path of teaching a wide range of ages and styles of dance. “We taught everything, but my favorite was always tap,” Sally explains. She and her partner, Marion, choreographed a dance recital each year for their students to showcase their skills. Sally and Marion also displayed their own talents during the recital and performed alongside their students. “We were the grand finale,” Sally says with a laugh.
Over her 20-year tenure, Sally’s teaching efforts paid off for two students in particular. One of Sally’s former students went on to join the famous Rockettes in New York City, while another student danced on Ted Mack’s TV show, The Original Amateur Hour. “That was a great accomplishment,” says Sally. She and Marion were both filled with pride to see former students garner great success in their fields.
Always one to think creatively, Sally started a roller skate dancing class. “My father owned the roller rink in Kingston, so I held classes there,” Sally explains. This was an innovative way to incorporate two aspects of Sally’s life into one exciting class. Sally has one daughter and two sons who used to frequent the roller rink with her. Sally’s daughter took dance classes, with Sally’s son and husband helping behind the scenes for recitals.
Sally’s creativity and optimism still remain a part of her persona as a resident of St. John’s. Sitting outside in the courtyard, Sally points out several beautiful, or in her words, “attractive,” elements of the landscaping. Sally attends several different music programs, including the Now We Drum class, as well as performs in yearly concerts. She is also deft at various card games, particularly gin rummy and pinochle. “I just join everything,” Sally explains. Her social and joyful demeanor is a welcome addition to any activity at St. John’s.
Sally’s incredible career left a lasting impact on all of the students she taught. She fondly remembers the days of teaching and performing, which always bring a smile to her face. Sally exudes the same light and excitement during programming and toward her fellow residents at St. John’s.