What is a Hoofer? How did they come to be? Who started all this anyway? And has Lincoln County benefited from their efforts? The concept of 30 years ago that progressed to fruition today came from one girl’s dream and passion. That person is Teri Jernigan, owner of Dance and All That Jazz studio, director for the “Kidstuff” production, and secretary of TJ Hoofers, Inc.
Jernigan began her first ballet and jazz classes at 8 years of age. Her family moved to Newport when she was 12, and she continued to dance at Pat’s School of Dance (Pat Grimstad), adding tap to her list of skills. Jernigan wanted to be a professional dancer at age 15, but wasn’t sure how to make that happen. Along came college, and all she wanted to do was dance. She even commuted to Newport on weekends to teach classes for Grimstad’s studio. One summer, Grimstad took a group to L.A. for classes, an experience that led Jernigan to start her own studio. In 1987, she began teaching ballet, jazz and tap to about 60 students at the community center in South Beach. Performances were held at the old Central Elementary School (later called Naterlin and currently Newport City Hall). The “Kidstuff” show was created to showcase student accomplishments at the end of the school year. As the years progressed, so did Jernigan’s student numbers. Finding a larger space to add additional instructors and levels to classes became necessary, leading her to purchase the old Newport roller rink built in 1907.
The concept of the “Hoofer Jazz Line” was created in 1986. This was to recognize an ongoing group of elite dancers to perform annually during the Loyalty Days Coronation. The dancers open and close the “Kidstuff” production on Mother’s Day weekend, as well.
Jernigan was also instrumental in starting up a nonprofit group in 1989. Members of the founding board included Pat Grimstad, Signe Grimstad, Marv Vernon, Frost Lee, Ron Seifert, Peggy Rariden and John Brenneman. Present board members are Jernigan, Signe Grimstad, Seifert, Fred Postlewait and Pam Simpson. The purpose of the foundation is to fund dance scholarships for those local students wishing to pursue their passion in dance. It supports dance workshops held in Newport, with choreographers brought in from Los Angeles and Colorado,. as well as sending dance students to conferences offered on the West Coast. The foundation also supports the arts in the local community by contributing $5,000 to the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.
To celebrate 30 years of TJ Hoofers, Inc., special events are planned for this year’s Mother’s Day weekend production. Past TJ Hoofers will be honored during each show. Shows will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 12, at the Newport Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available at the PAC, through their box office, by calling 541-265-ARTS (2787) or online at coastarts.org.
Kidstuff is sponsored, in part, by funding from the City of Newport and the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.