Lillian Dean, the founder of the Lillian Dean Dance Studio, began dancing at the age of three. Her first teacher was her father, William Dean (pictured right), who at the time was a famous clog dancer on Broadway and began teaching her tap and acrobatics. She soon began studying ballet, her all-time favorite, from Dorothy Palmer in Newark, NJ and later continued lessons in NY.
The Lillian Dean Dance Studio was founded on August 23, 1926 when Lillian Dean began teaching classes in her back yard. That year her recital was held in a playground in Essex County. She later opened in Orange, NJ where she taught thousands of students. In the meantime she was a Radio City Rockette and appeared in many Broadway Shows. The Lillian Dean Dance Studio was brought to Toms River (one day a week) in 1958. It was located down town on Hyers Street, then moved to Main Street, and found its home on Washington Street in 1962.
Although Lillian was second mother to thousands of children she never had any of her own. She put all of her energy into her brother Richard’s three children, Rickey, Kevin, and Margie.
MEET MARGIE DEAN MILLER
Margie Dean Miller was born in Montclair, NJ. in 1955. Having parents who were both dancers, she started dancing as soon as she took her first step. She appeared in her first recital in June of 1957 at the age of 19 months old. She studied tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, Irish step dancing, acrobatics, ballroom, Hawaiian, and lyrical. She was a member of her aunt’s competition group, the “Deanettes,” and appeared on the Tony Grant Stars of Tomorrow show and also the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, NJ. Not only did she study with Lillian, she also studied in NY with Charles Kelly, Luigi, Lynda Gache, Frank Hatchett, Peter Gennaro, Maurice Heinz, Gus Giordano, Madame Swoboda and more.
Margie began student teaching at 13, and at 16 passed her teaching test and was certified with Dance Educators of America and Dance Masters of America. She was then allowed to teach her own classes. At 17 years old Margie auditioned for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. Her Aunt Lillian was thrilled when Margie was accepted and was very excited. Although she was selected, Margie decided not to go. She stayed home and began choreographing shows at Ocean County College and local High Schools, and was on staff at Monmouth University in the Fine Arts Department as a Dance teacher and choreographer. Margie has choreographed well over 100 shows, and is now the Director for Toms River Township Theater Arts Summer Program.
Margie got married in June of 1976. She missed her Aunt’s 50 year anniversary because she was on her honeymoon. This recital also happened to be Lillian’s last recital since she was diagnosed with cancer in September of 1976. Lillian died on January 12, 1977. This was a pretty rough time for Margie because she was 6 months pregnant with Meghan and had to take over the whole school. With the help of her Mom, Mary Dean, who had been the secretary in the school since 1958 and also taught dance, and some of her friends, her first recital was pulled off.
Pictured left - Meghan, Melanie and Mandi
Meghan was born in April and Margie’s first recital was in June. Since then, Margie had 2 other daughters, Mandi and Melanie. All of them started dancing as soon as they could walk and were raised in the dance studio.
THE FAMILY TRADITION OF EXCELLENCE CONTINUES
Our philosophy at Lillian Dean Dance Studio is to developed children into well-rounded, self-confident young adults. These are qualities that will help them for the rest of their lives.
We have seen many success stories come out of our studio and we’re hoping for many more. Some of our past students credits include; Tony-nominated Broadway choreographer; soap opera stars; television shows; motion pictures, print modeling; TV commercials; Atlantic City and Las Vegas dancers; Rockettes and of course dance teachers. Our students have performed in Disney World, Universal Studios, Costa Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the 2012 London Olympics, Disneyland Paris and Barcelona, Spain.
In June of 2021 we will celebrate our 95th anniversary. We are so grateful for the memories the thousands of children and their families have given to us. Thank you; from our family to yours.
"My daughter has benefited greatly from her years at Lillian Dean Dance Studio, it has helped shape her into the wonderful young woman she is today. She has many wonderful memories and many wonderful lifelong friends!"
BARBARA DeRIGGI | PARENT