To dance is no more than Katherine Malaby’s second-favorite thing to do.
She most prizes watching as one of her students practices or performs and is astounding and looks to be about as happy as a kid can be.
For 40 years, Katherine has coached and choreographed young dancers at her Santa Rosa studio, Katherine Wheeler Dancers. Many of her tap, jazz and hip hop students have competed at the highest amateur levels, some have gone professional.
One, Marissah Simonini, is an L.A. Lakers cheerleader and dance teacher. Zachary Turner performs at Disney World. Karen Martinez operates a dance studio in Texas. Emily Wong is the current Miss Sonoma County Outstanding Teen.
Students of Katherine, a Wheeler before she married Greg Malaby, have thrilled audiences at many Rose Parades in Santa Rosa and annual performances at Rohnert Park’s Spreckels Center.
Katherine’s decision to close Katherine Wheeler Dancers was wrenching.
“I can tell you that a lot of people were pretty unhappy,” she said. But to sustain the school became too costly for her, and there are kin in the Sierra Nevada foothills excited that she and Greg will soon move closer by.
Katherine isn’t yet finished in Sonoma County. She’s still working here with a handful of extremely driven young, competitive dancers, among them 16-year-old Makena Kithcart, Brooklyn Nordby, who’s 15, and Jordan Tauzer-Pardo, 12.
Asked what’s best about dancing, Makena replied, “It brings out who you are.”
DIFFERENT DRUM: If you’ve wanted to have a go with a Japanese taiko drum, and who hasn’t, Saturday could be the day.
An open house at Sonoma County Taiko will offer opportunities to play a drum, some short performances and demonstrations of the how the great drums are built. It happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 3325 Regional Parkway, Suite 11, in Santa Rosa.
As with dance, there’s more to taiko drumming than the motion and exertion and entertainment value.
Says Meg Mizutani, who’s helping to plan the open house, “We believe taiko drumming is a simple but powerful tool to bring people together.”
CLARK MASON reminisces as he prepares to retire Thursday after almost 40 years as a PD reporter. He could tell you about his favorites among the many, many stories he tackled, and about the one that hit him hardest.
Reporters don’t like to be in the spotlight, but it happened to Clark in 2002 while he covered the trial of Don Kimball, a priest and sexual predator.
Outside the courtroom, Kimball became enraged when a photographer with the San Francisco Chronicle began pictures of him and he slammed the camera into her face, then grabbed it and threw it — into Clark’s crotch.
Clark wasn’t badly hurt, but it pained him to become part of the story and to be called to testify about the assault-with-camera incident in court.
Clark has covered crime and trials, local government, casinos, pretty much everything.
He says he enjoyed his long career and focuses now on plans to travel with his wife, Virginia, to places without deadlines.
Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and firstname.lastname@example.org.