BY JACLYN ROSE –
Forty-four years ago in 1970, God told Margaret Fassler to open a dance academy in Mena and Fassler Academy of Dance and Gymnastics was born. Several years later, God spoke to Fassler again and she adopted her daughter, Danna. “As it turns out Danna is a genius in this field. She is gifted at music and she can dance and twirl. When she learns a routine she never forgets it. She can sing, dance, choreograph, tumble and twirl and her daughters, Misty and Brianna, are just like her. So God told me to open this studio and then gave me a daughter who was an expert at it,” explained Fassler. Because of her time and dedication in Polk County Fassler has now taught students spanning at least three generations. “It’s fun to teach the kids and grandkids of my former students because I usually know exactly what they are going to say and do, they are just like their mommas,” she said with a grin.
Fassler, a PE Major, who claims she majored in that field simply because she likes to have fun, is also a retired teacher, who spent most of her teaching career at Mena Public Schools. With her PE background, she jumped into the field of dance and gymnastics with very little formal training but instead she attended many workshops and spent time with the Riggs, who taught her how to teach ballet. “The Riggs were another miracle. You can learn a lot about gymnastics and dance by reading about it and watching videos but you have to be taught the proper way to do ballet. It’s the foundation for all of it. The Riggs were so good, if I ever came across a move I did not know they could teach it to me over the phone.”
Fassler is also a member of ODMA, Oklahoma Dance Masters, where she attends twice a year seminars at the Oklahoma City Performing Arts School. “These women are good, honest women who believe that God started dancing, the devil took it and now we are taking it back.”
Teaching fascinates Fassler, who loves to find the fastest and best way to show her students a new skill, whether in sports or in a classroom. She has created a wonderful program for each of her classes: Preschool, Elementary and High School. Each class is taught age and skill level appropriate forms of ballet, tap, twirling and gymnastics. And the elementary and high school groups are also taught jazz. The Academy hosts a Christmas ballet program, and a gymnastics program at the end of April. They also host an old fashioned dance recital at the end of the school year.
Fassler also explained that because she sees the school as her calling from the Lord and because she is retired and not seeking a full time income, she works hard to keep her rates as low as possible. Her goal is for any young lady to have the ability to learn the skills and finesse that come with training in ballet and other forms of dance and gymnastics. “At some point most women will find themselves in a position to walk across a stage, when they have studied ballet they can do that looking better. If a student will get in my wonderful program and stay in it they will have skills and finesse. I believe that every girl should study ballet. Every girl should learn to dance.” The gymnastics portion of Fassler’s Academy is also open to any male student who wishes to learn those skills.
Fassler has also purchased property adjacent to her house and is looking forward to the day she is able to build a new studio on that location. For now she will continue teaching as many students as God allows in her current location on Main Street. “I want to teach my students to do the best they can and to be a friend. We are always nice to each other and no making fun is allowed. The students need to learn you will always need a friend.”