Dance teacher King who dedicated his life to craftsmanship retires

Joyce Triche of Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio is retiring after serving Stokes County as a dance teacher for nearly 50 years on East Dalton Street in King. (Photo submitted)

Joyce Triche of Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio is retiring after serving Stokes County as a dance teacher for nearly 50 years on East Dalton Street in King. Over the years, Triche has taught dance to thousands of students, including several generations of Stokes County residents.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Triche moved with her father to his Stokes County home as a baby. It was here in Stokes County that she stayed most of her life. As an educator who touched the lives of generations of Stokes County residents, Triche herself was inspired by one of her own teachers who encouraged her to pursue dance. “My second-grade teacher, Jessie Garner, who was also my Sunday school teacher, told my parents that she thought it would be a good idea if I took up dancing,” Triche recalled. During a May Day program at King Elementary School, Triche debuted as a bunny in a costume his mother had made for him. “Apparently I inflated my share a bit; I did more than I was supposed to. It was the padding that inspired Ms. Garner to encourage young Triche to pursue dancing, and in doing so, propelled her down a path that would shape not just the rest of her life, but the lives of many.

Around the age of seven, Triche was enrolled at Dorminy’s Dance Studios in Winston-Salem where she was a student for 10 years, graduating from Dorminy the same year she graduated from South Stokes High School in 1966. At Dorminy, she started with ballet, then moved on to tap and baton – all types of dance she would eventually teach at her own dance studio in King. Quickly after his debut at Dorminy, Triche discovered a second passion that would go hand in hand with dance: teaching. At age 13, Triche began teaching under Miss Dorminy, who started Dorminy Dance Studios in the 1930s. Triche’s job as a teacher was to catch up with students who had registered late so that they could join the main class of the program, and in that role she taught truncheon, tap dancing and her favourite, ballet.

Around the age of 15, Triche started teaching at Mount Airy before he even had a driver’s license. “My mom drove me there and she would sit in the car and knit while I taught an hour and a half of class.” From there, Triche was able to take part in a number of shows at the Tanglewood Barn Theater in Winston-Salem in which Miss Dorminy did the choreography for the musicals. The Tanglewood Barn Theater musicals served as the formal introduction to Triche’s performance. Triche would also become a member of Miss Dorminy’s Ballet Guild dance company, participating in various ballets. Triche even took the lead role in the production of “Giselle” at age 16 choreographed by Joseph Levanoff, who would become head of the dance department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Arts school was in its infancy when Triche began taking chemistry classes at Western Carolina between his junior and senior years of high school. Science would always interest Triche, but her formal education changed once her parents offered her space for a dance studio in a small building on their property where they had a warehouse.

This small building served as the first studio in Stokes County where she taught once a week. “It made all the difference in the world,” says Triche. “When I was able to run my own business.” Based on a recommendation, Triche enrolled at Texas Christian University at Fortworth, which offers the nation’s oldest degree program in ballet. At Texas Christian University, Triche studied dance while maintaining an on-campus job in the chemistry lab. After graduating in 1970, Triche began teaching baton and acrobatics at his home at the Mount Airy Fine Arts Carnival, which paved the way for Surry County Arts Council. It was also during this time that she established Miss Joyce’s dance studio in her parents’ warehouse. “The warehouse was originally an ice rink,” recalls Triche. “It had a rock maple floor which was fantastic for dancing.”

While in Texas, Triche met the love of her life at an acting school named Ward. After returning home to North Carolina, Ward Triche remained in Texas, but corresponded by letters and phone calls. The two married in August 1971, which led Ward Triche to move to North Carolina. The couple celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary last summer. “I will say he has been very supportive of me and the business over the years. As the kids will tell you, it’s a family affair. After the couple married, Ward Triche started teaching in schools from Rockingham County to Wentworth, which led to a famous career as an educator in North Carolina.

In 1973 Triche’s parents retired, resulting in the sale of the building which housed the dance studio, and in 1974 she moved the studio to its current location on East Dalton Street in King. When Triche was a child, she remembers coming to the exact location where the studio is now, when it was a grocery store. “I remember coming here and grocery shopping with my parents,” Triche says. “In 1974, Hubbard Realty in Winston-Salem had it for rent – and you could also pay more on the rent with the option to buy. And that’s what we did.

Joyce Triche served the Stokes County community as a dance teacher from then on at the same location for almost 50 years. Offering nine dance instruction styles, including tap, lyrical, jazz, acrobatics, stick twirling, musical theater and Triche’s favorite ballet. Under Triche’s guidance, many students have performed and won awards at statewide dance competitions. “We had so many trophies that they went around,” says Joyce. “I couldn’t have after this year, unless I put more shelves somewhere, more room to put more trophies. There were a bunch of them. One year, students at Miss Joyce’s dance studio won a musical theater trophy for the most entertaining act for ages 13 and under. “We would go to the Carolina Dance Masters Performing Arts Competition. Years ago we would go to the Showstopper Dance Competition – the stick did really well at that one.

Triche has been a 50-year member of Dance Masters of America Incorporated, the nation’s oldest organization of dance teachers. In 1972, Triche took a ballet and tap dance test to become a member of the organization and continued his training by attending masterclasses and conventions over the years. Triche went on to earn her Masters in Ballet Dance Education from Dance Masters of America, making her one of only five people nationwide to earn this honor due to the novelty of this particular program. Triche served on the Carolina Dance Masters Board of Directors for 10 non-consecutive years, as well as their Performance Artistic Director for six years as well.

Triche students have performed at Stokes Stomp as well as KingFest over the years. Miss Joyce’s dance studio also hosted a Flip-a-thon for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, raising several thousand dollars over the years for cystic fibrosis research. Additionally, to advocate for literacy in the county, Miss Joyce’s dance studio also held a program called “A Dancer Reads”, in coordination with the King Public Library. In this program, studio students read dance books for a month and counted the number of pages they had read. Through this program, children have recorded thousands of pages read, instilling in them a love of literature – just one of the many ways Joyce Triche has given back to her community and inspired young people around the world. Stokes County.

Joyce Triche officially retired from teaching at Miss Joyce’s Dance Studio on July 15.

About Tracy G. Larimore

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