She had a knack for the hustle and excelled at teaching. This young lady had the look and was invited to join one of the most prestigious dance troops of the day. As one of the first dancers to represent New York City on the syndicated television show "Dance Fever," Evie Hoover Roderer is not your typical Disco Diva.
For five years she ate, slept and thought nothing other then the hustle. With an impeccable dance resume, and a long list of achievements, in 1980, she quietly slipped into the night and started the next chapter of her life, outside of the hustle circle. " I was just in the preverbal right place at the right time," remembers Evie.
Growing up in Elizabeth, NJ back in the early 60's, I began dancing at 8 years old. I remember not only learning all the ballroom dances, but being introduced to the "proper" way to dress and conduct ourselves" reminisces Evie. Like many, her dance idols growing up were Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers. The year was 1975, and Evie was now attending school in Manhattan as a photography major. She came across an opportunity to instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio at 5th Ave. "This is where I learned an awesome new dance called the Hustle" Evie recalls. A year later, she moved from the city to Forrest Hills, Queens and began teaching at PJ's Dance Charisma, located on Metropolitan Ave. "I was impressed that the owners were very serious about keeping a high professional standard with all that we did, explains Evie. "From our dress code to how we interacted with the students and our weekly training sessions... we gave our best." At PJ's she made friends with many talented dancers including Lori McKay, Billie Burk, Mr. Kiev, Jose Solano and Bobbi Petri
In 1977 , Evie had that special connection, the type that every teacher yearns for. She took on a new student, a very talented gentlemen. For the next two years she would work with this rising star. "His name is synonymous with the Hustle - Wingo Hom, who has been dancing ever since." I look at Wingo and I'm so grateful to him (and others like him) for helping to keep the Hustle alive," an appreciative Evie shares. As a teacher, Evie learned all the different ballroom dances but the Hustle was her favorite. Disco was in full bloom and contests were popping up everywhere. New York became the flagship for the finest discotheques and hustle dancing. Along with her partner, Pat Taverna, she would enter hustle contests at different night clubs. In 1979, this hot new team captured one of the most prestigious competitions of the day. This event was held at the exclusive discotheque, Club Regines. Their first place win opened a huge door for an invitation to appear and compete on the brand new, nationally televised show , "Dance Fever." Merv Griffen's Dance Fever became the number one watched prime time show. If that wasn't enough, Evie was then offered to join a newly formed dance group called the "Disco Dance Stars" whose founding couple were Floyd Chisholm & Nelly Cotto.
Floyd and Nelly had recently been crowned the King & Queen of Disco. Their dance troop was in great demand. Another couple was recruited to join, a newly paired twosome, that would go on to win the United States Championships, none other then Lisa Nunziella and Arte Phillips. "I was back in the right place at the right time" smiles Evie. " When it came to the hustle these dancers were the best of the best." The Disco Dance Stars were booked to perform in Israel. They toured the country from north to south, performing at large stadiums, concert halls and on a popular Israeli TV talk show. Our home base was the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. On the street we were recognized as "those American Hustle dancers," We were such a popular draw at the club that the Sheraton offered to keep us an extra week, ALL expenses paid." Now that was cool." Like all great dancers, Evie continued to train and was under the direction of Pierre Dulaine. World renown and a Blackpool Champion, (Dulaine was portrayed last year in the hit movie 'Take The Lead'). What an amazing individual, exclaims Evie. For five years, Evie danced and danced and danced. In 1980, she moved back to New Jersey where she met her future husband. The following year they would be married and her son waltzed his way into our lives in 1982. "So I did a quick step onto the family scene and completed my routine with my daughter in 85." I just changed hats. Dancing was put on hold, but she never lost her desire or love for dancing. Like mother, her daughter Rachel began studying ballet as soon as she could walk. During her dance recitals, one year part of the program was dedicated to Evie and Rachel doing a ballroom medley dedicated to her childhood idols, the incomparable Fred & Ginger. As the years turned, Evie never lost her love for dancing. She would continue to watch and consume every show on TV that included dancing. 15 years had now pasted when she by chance met Denise Sanchez, a professional photographer. Denise was covering an assignment for her Allentown newspaper that brought the two together. Since Evie had was an avid student of photography, she wanted to meet Denise, just to say hello. " We struck up a polite conversation that innocently led us to talking about other interests outside of our jobs. Denise mentioned dancing and she "immediately had my full attention." She couldn't believe it; the Hustle is still alive and well. Again, in the right place at the right time," an excited Evie shares. On the recommendation of Denise, Evie began attending Michael's' Cafe in Pa. One night she experienced one of those "moments that you only see in the movies." I had not heard anything about him in 27 years and now he is dancing a few feet away from me. There he was, Wingo Hom, and he looks the same. That was a flash from the past. Too amazing! Then two years later, there is this terrific dancer at Michael's Cafe that Wingo introduces me too. Wingo uses my nickname "Evie" but this person says to me "I don't know an Evie Hoover but I know an Eveleth exclaims Artie Phillips.
"For me dancing is an ever present passion. Even though I switched from dancer to Mom & wife, the passion has never left me," reflects Evie. Being able to dance is a "gift" that God has given me. It brings me great joy, whether I am a spectator or participant. It is a part of who I am. I am happy for the many wonderful people that have entered my life.....I am so grateful for my kind and thoughtful husband and 2 terrific children who have allowed me to enjoy it. Even the person with "2 left feet" has every right to the joy of dancing. If I helped to encourage anyone to that end, I'm blessed.
Evie is not your typical disco diva, she doesn't adorn fancy sequin outfits, no braggadocio persona, just a glowing smile. Today, she is still an active social dancer happy to have been part of a special dance era that still warms her heart today.