Barbara’s School of Dance celebrates 50 years in Anchorage

Opened in 1973, Barbara's School of Dance has taught generations of Alaskans the joy of movement for 50 years.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 10:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Inside Barbara’s School of Dance is filled with the sound of music — music that makes you smile, happy, and most of all, makes you want to move.

Barbara Clausen stood by with a big smile on her face as she watched her students — who she also considers family — practice a performance for their upcoming recital in May. She opened the studio 50 years ago in 1973 and it’s still going strong.

“I really didn’t want to have another studio of my own because it’s so much work, but I did again and I’m so glad I did,” Clausen said.

Generation after generation, the dance gene literally runs in the family. Barbara’s name may be on the building, but her daughter Tori Roberts is just as much a part of the dance studio’s success.

“As a woman (she) has created something that has become a business that has stood the test of time. I grew up here, the older kids were, you know, my babysitters and things like that,” Roberts said.

Roberts performed with the Radio City Rockettes for seven years, an experience she’s now passed on to her daughters, Caitlin and Carly Roberts, both of whom grew up in the same studio she did and are now going to college to pursue dance.

“I’m fortunate that they have loved dance as well,” Roberts said.

“People are always like, ‘Oh my gosh your grandma is Barbara, like the Barbara?’ I’m like that’s the one, that’s her,” Carly added.

“It’s awesome, whenever we tell people they’re like it’s a dance dynasty,” Caitlin said.

When you ask Clausen if — or when — she plans to retire, her answer remains the same.

“Not yet. That’s my only answer — not yet,” Clausen said.

In honor of celebrating 50 years, Barbara’s School of Dance is having a free recital on May 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the West High School auditorium.