Wide-ranging show to include nods to the magic of Mary Poppins, a tribute to the King of Pop Michael Jackson, and Hairspray.

Scenes from Happy Feet Dance School performances, including co-director Caitlin Bechelli at Winterfest, bottom right, and founder Cece Bechelli, bottom left. Courtesy images.
Forty years ago next month, Cece Bechelli opened Happy Feet Dance School in the building that contains Marin Theatre Company on Miller Avenue. She moved it one year later to a 2,600-square-foot, bowling alley-shaped former auto repair garage on Montford Avenue right off of Miller. the school has been there ever since. 

To celebrate four decades of teaching kids and adults to an array of dance styles, Bechelli, her daughter and school co-director Caitlin and their team of dance instructors are hosting a “The Best of Forty Years in Dance!” recital on June 3, with a performances by the school’s younger dancers at 12:30pm and older dancers at 4:30pm, with Happy Feet’s high school performing company performing at both shows.

Set for the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, the recital will cover a ton of ground, with alumni, friends, and family invited to reminisce and enjoy some of the most cherished tap, jazz, and ballet suites in Happy Feet’s forty-year history. Happy Feet’s high school performing company will bring to life Happy Feet favorites like “The Magic of Mary Poppins,” “A Tribute to the King of Pop – Michael Jackson and Hairspray.

“We are so blessed to have had the opportunity to teach so many wonderful students in this community,” Cece Bechelli says. “It’s especially rewarding to have so many children start with us as little toddlers and stay with us all the way until high school graduation. Not only do our students develop into well-trained beautiful dancers, but we get to know our students as confident young adults by the time they leave for college. We are so lucky!” 

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. And Caitlin Bechelli, who started dancing at the age of two at Happy Feet, taught there during high school and graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in World Arts and Cultures/ Dance, is the school’s co-director. 

“Having Caitlin as my co-director is a huge blessing,” Cece Bechelli says. “She brings a young, vibrant energy to Happy Feet and is a joy to work with everyday.”

Sheri Bechelli, Cece’s sister-in-law and friend from their childhood dance school in San Francisco, is one of Happy Feet’s long-time instructors, while her daughter, Brea, grew up dancing at Happy Feet, taught dance during high school and is now headed to the University of Oregon, where she will major in dance.

The June 3rd performances serve as a culmination of four decades,

The 411: Happy Feet celebrates four decades of teaching kids and adults to dance with a The Best of Forty Years in Dance! recital on Sunday, June 3 at 12:30pm and 4:30pm at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael. TIX & MORE INFO.

Here’s Cece and Caitlin Bechelli performing original choreography as a tribute to Duke Ellington and the Whitman Sisters: