Buffalo Grove dance studio sends its warmth to Newtown
Kylie Starr, Marcia Dobslaf and Kelsey Starr work on one of the 26 fleece blankets that Marcia's Dance Studio is sending to families of Sandy Hook shooting victims. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 16, 2013 8:14AM
BUFFALO GROVE — Twenty-six strangers’ dreams were shattered last month.
In response, a Buffalo Grove business owner decided to send them some warm, soft pieces of her dream-come-true.
“If a little blanket can warm their heart and bring some fond memories of their lost ones, then we’ve done a good deed,” explained Marcia Dobslaf.
Dobslaf, who owns Marcia’s Dance Studio at the corner of Half Day and Buffalo Grove roads, has been working with her students and their parents to cut and complete 26 fleece-tie blankets — one for each family that lost a child or teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Dobslaf said she hopes to box and mail the finished products later this week.
“I think it’s important to teach the children how lucky we are,” Dobslaf said. “I just thought how nice it would be if we did something for the families. We can’t take their pain away, certainly.”
When Dobslaf heard the heartbreaking news break Dec. 14, she started rummaging through the list of projects her studio had embarked upon for past tragedies.
After the 2005 hurricane that rocked the Gulf Coast, Marcia’s Dance Studio collected and donated thousands of pairs of socks. For Sandy Hook, though, Dobslaf thought of warmth and handmade blankets.
“I look at my children here taking class,” she said, “and I can’t imagine.”
Running her own studio had been Dobslaf’s childhood dream, she explained. She started learning dance at age three, and always wanted to emulate the teachers who helped her find confidence as well as skill.
The dream took shape in the spring of 1983, when her husband, Tim, came home and opened a set of blueprints in front of her. The designs were for renovations to an existing Buffalo Grove building, which he had secretly acquired for her.
“He said, ‘We’re building a dance studio,’” she recalled. “I was shocked. Twenty-nine years later, I’m still here.”
Since then, Dobslaf has taught ballet, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary, point and jazz dance styles, and has fielded several competitive dance teams. The studio also offers clinics for pom-pom and cheerleading hopefuls.
Dobslaf’s dance community spent about three and a half hours cutting apart, then assembling each fleece blanket, she said. A few logistical questions remain — primarily, exactly where they will send their care packages. The mayor’s office? The Post Office? The school?
Dobslaf acknowledged that the victims’ families, and likely the entire city, are under a deluge of goodwill offerings from around the world. She said that regardless of what happens with the blankets, if she could teach something about kindness, and the value of dreams, to her current students, the project would be a success.
“I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary — I’m just a down-to-earth person who cares about my students.”