Forty-five years ago next month, Cece Bechelli opened Happy Feet Dance School in the building that now contains Marin Theatre Company on Miller Avenue. She moved it four years later to her current space, a former auto repair garage on Montford Avenue right off Miller.

The school has been there ever since.

To celebrate 45 years of teaching dance in Mill Valley Cece and Caitlin Bechelli are serving up a pair of performances at Dominican University’s Forest Meadows Amphitheatre in San Rafael. The first show is on Saturday May 20 at 4:30pm, and the second is on Sunday, May 21, at 6:30pm.

The performances, titled “What a Glorious Feeling,” showcase preschool through high school dancers as well as adult students. Both shows feature their advanced ensemble dancers performing original choreography to a Singing In The Rain suite. Happy Feet director Cece Bechelli remarks, “we are so excited to be producing our shows and celebrating this milestone anniversary in this beautiful outdoor venue.”

Bechelli, who founded Happy Feet in 1978, has taught tap, jazz, and ballet to thousands of students from toddlers to adults over the course of the last 45 years. Many Happy Feet students have gone on to college theater and dance programs and many former students have returned to Happy Feet to enroll their children in classes at the school. Bechelli comments, “It’s such a thrill to have so many second generation students at Happy Feet.” Her own three children grew up dancing and teaching at Happy Feet. Her daughter, Caitlin graduated from UCLA’s Dance Department in 2011 and returned to Happy Feet where she now teaches tap, jazz, and ballet to students of all ages and co-directs the school with her mom. Other faculty members include tap and Jazz instructor Maria Elena Cacciatore and ballet instructor Vicki- Marie Bassing. Happy Feet also offers teaching opportunities to high school students who work as teaching assistants. Life-long Mill Valley resident Patty Simmons has worked at Happy Feet for the past 40 years as an office manager. Bechelli reflects, “we are proud of the community we’ve built at Happy Feet over the past 45 years. Our students and their families are part of our Happy Feet family. It’s been an absolute joy to share our love of dance with so many wonderful students.”

Happy Feet has long been a family affair. Bechelli’s three children, Matt, Caitlin, and Kelsey “basically grew up at Happy Feet,” she says, all teaching dance in high school and college. Now three of Bechelli’s five grandchildren are dancing at the school. Bechelli remarks, “Forty-five years later, Caitlin and I are having so much fun sharing our love of dance with the next generation. Our cousin crew is growing.”

Cece Bechelli is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at San Francisco State University where she teaches courses in tap dance and its cultural history.