Estacada resident still dancing through life
Elaine Leatham has had many brushes with celebrities during her dance career.
While working in and producing shows in California, Oregon and Texas, Leatham has performed for audiences that have included Marlon Brando and Sidney Poitier. The film stars both stopped by productions where she was dancing in Los Angeles.
Leatham recalled Poitier told her "keep dancing and see you around."
When Brando entered the club where she was performing, she said, "all the women ran out of the dressing rooms to him."
"He lit up the whole club," she said.
Leatham has been dancing since she was 5 years old. She comes from a creative family — her father was in the music business, while her mother was a dancer, who taught Leatham and her sister the art at a young age. Leatham and her sister were dance partners growing up.
"It's in my blood," she said.
When Leatham was 12, she put on dance shows for her neighborhood in San Francisco.
"I wanted to make money to go to the movies and watch dancers," she said.
Dancing comes naturally to Leatham, and she doesn't limit herself to specific influences or styles.
"I just dance. Wherever the music moves me, I go with the music," she said.
Leatham has been in Estacada since 1979. Her family relocated to the area because her husband had lived in Oregon previously.
"We came here on a bus with five kids and two German shepherds," she said.
Initially, Leatham thought she was done with dancing when she arrived in Estacada, but old habits die hard.
"I wasn't going to dance. I was going to chill," she said. "But I'm a dancer."
Shortly after that, she started "A Touch of Class Experience," which is still going strong today.
"I don't belong to any organization in this town. I'm my own organization," she said
Outside of Estacada, she's danced at shows for the Portland Rose Festival and the Oregon State Fair.
There will be "A Touch of Class Experience," show at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Estacada Community Center, 200 S.W. Club House Drive. The $10 admission includes dinner, and proceeds will benefit Center's Meals on Wheels program.
The upcoming show features Jerry Erickson, Kathy Erickson, Peggy Ayles Hartwig, Avery Davis, Alycia Schieberl, Doug Thomas, Cassi Wunische, Harley Wunische, Abbie Wunische, Doug Thomas, Christina Richartz, Janet Morse and Tom Cherry.
Ayles Hartwig has been involved with the show since its earliest days, dancing
and finding costumes and props.
"She's my rock," Leatham said.
Leatham enjoys working with a variety of people and skill levels in Estacada.
"I find something for them. One couldn't raise her arm, I worked with that," she said. "I love people and putting on shows."
If you go
What: "A Touch of Class Experience" dinner and dance show to benefit the Estacada Community Center's Meals on Wheels program.
When: 6 p.m. Saturday, July 14.
Where: Estacada Community Center, 200 S.W. Club House Drive.
Cost: $10 per person. Advanced reservations are required. Call the Center at 503-630-7454.