The Coast News Group
Toe Tappers Marilyn Halder, Robin Stein, Fran Vitek, Janeen Bitton and Margaret Clive connect with senior audiences through the art of dance. Courtesy photo
Arts Vista

Toe Tappers clock in 10 holiday performances

VISTA — The North County-based Toe Tappers help reignite the genre of tap dancing. For the love of dance, a nine-person troop of women ages 55 and older impress audiences with talent, poise and style.

Toe Tappers, a nonprofit organization which gives back to the community in the form of musical entertainment, was established more than 30 years ago. In 2017, they had 24 performances in 2017 — 10 of those were just in December.

In addition to performing, there is also rehearsing. Hours of it.

“On Monday and Thursday mornings we have group rehearsals that last about an hour and a half, maybe two hours,” said manager Fran Vitek. “Then those in duets or trios meet on a more regular basis. Most of us are rehearsing about five days a week.”

Vitek added that the dance skill levels of their troop members are very high. Most dancers had formal training when they were children, so they came to Toe Tappers with a dance background.

“There are a couple of our dancers who came in with musical experience and stage experience,” she said.

Over the last several years, all the dancers have assimilated into a cohesive group and are at the same level, she said.

Toe Tappers is based in Vista since they rehearse at the Gloria McClellan Center. However, the dancers reside all over North County such as Vista, Bonsall, Carlsbad and San Marcos.

Vitek became part of the Toe Tappers team in 2009. She started dancing at 5 years of age, and continued through college and danced in between careers and raising a family.

She said dance has enhanced her life.

“I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t dance. It gives me joy, and it’s creative,” she said. “I love performing for these groups of people. Especially the seniors, when you see their faces, they enjoy it so much. It brings back memories for them when they danced.”

For Vitek, dance is a great way to connect with the audience.

Robin Stein, the choreographer for Toe Tappers, echoes the same sentiments about the special connection.

“I want our audience to enjoy it thoroughly and to love the music,” said Stein, adding that the right music makes the show. “I wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces that are in the audience and get them to snap their fingers and tap their toes.”

Like Vitek, Stein started dancing as a child and continued her training into college. Stein grew up in Indiana and went to a fine arts college to study. She earned her degree in physical education but minored in dance education.

Since most of their performances are geared toward a senior audience, Stein looks for new music that can bring back old memories. Seniors can relive earlier times through Toe Tappers.

While Stein loves performing, what’s equally enjoyable is the camaraderie with her fellow dance mates.

Vitek said it’s all about learning the choreography and bringing that talent to the outside communities.

“At the retirement and senior communities, some of them have memory care facilities. It means everything that we can brighten up their day,” Vitek said. “That’s why we do what we do.”

To learn more about Toe Tappers, including future performances and dancing auditions, call (760) 845-5705 or visit