Sunday, August 5, 2012

Alan Tuggey: A Dancer and a Gentleman

SouthernStar amateur dancers with coach Alan Tuggey, Atlanta Open 1994






                           Alan Tuggey: A Dancer and a Gentleman

We are saddened by the loss of Alan Tuggey, but blessed to have known him as a dear friend, a truly gentle man, and a devoted dance coach. When Richard and I first met Alan in 1990, he immediately came to our rescue. We were practicing and he was teaching a group class at the USF Dance Department, and when we stupidly locked ourselves out of the studio where we were rehearsing, he took the time to help us get back in using his key.

We were so taken with his kindly demeanor, courteous attitude, and charming British manners – not to mention his expertise in International Standard – that we asked him to coach us. He became not only our coach, but a close friend who encouraged us and gave us moral support. He prepared us for our first International Standard competition at Ohio Star Ball, which was quite a challenge because his studio had a small floor, making the floor at Ohio seem like a football field by comparison!

When we were asked to be the only amateur couple performing with the U.S. Professional American Style Tour and Team Match in Russia in 1992, Alan rose to the occasion to help us improve our theatrical dance to “Rhapsody in Blue.” What he lacked in specific adagio training he made up for in knowledge of dance fundamentals and in overall enthusiasm.

One day we were trying to do an overhead bird, and Alan advised me to run at Richard with great speed to gain momentum. In the heat of the moment, I unfortunately forgot that all lifts must go up, translating horizontal momentum into vertical thrust, and I plowed into Richard and Alan (who was standing behind him to spot) with all the power and grace of a football tackle, knocking both men to the ground!  Thankfully, no one was hurt, and we all shared a good laugh over that mishap for many weeks to come!

Despite the many long hours Alan spent coaching us the last 2 weeks before we left for Russia, he refused to accept payment for those hours, saying with a gracious smile that he was doing his part to improve international relations!

On the day that we closed on the purchase of the building at 12101 N. 56th Street in Temple Terrace, FL, that would become Rhapsody Ballroom, Alan agreed to teach us there even though the long, tedious process of renovations had not yet begun. So Richard tore out a 6-foot square of worn-out carpet, and Alan coached us on Latin Rumba on the bare cement, much to the detriment of everyone’s shoes and feet! And we all worked up a sweat since the air conditioning wasn’t working and it was a hot summer day in Florida!

Once the Rhapsody Ballroom was up and running, it seemed to attract many dedicated and enthusiastic amateur competitors, due in large part to Alan’s coaching and encouragement of dancers at all levels. He would often travel at his own expense to competitions that his students had entered so that he could cheer us on and give us a blow-by-blow description of our strengths and weaknesses in the heat of battle.

Although he taught less in later years due to failing health, he staunchly supported amateur competitions, not only with his attendance, but by donating scholarship money and by judging and scrutineering in the days when all the tabulation was done by hand. I used to feel so sorry for Alan stuck at the scrutineer’s table all day, poring over the judges’ sheets without even being able to look up at the dancing he loved so much!

Alan was a true gentleman, friend, and encourager who always had a kind word and often a helpful bit of advice for amateur dancers, whether or not they were his students. He touched the lives of many dancers who are better for having known him, and he will be sorely missed. 

Photo, left to right: Mike Johnston, Peg Johnston, Greg Burns, Sarah Coates, Alan Tuggey, Laurie Collett, Richard Collett

30 comments:

Leslie Frances said...

Laurie I'm sorry for your loss, I'm sure he will be in your thoughts every time you dance.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Leslie! Sadly, we were not able to attend a get-together in his memory Friday evening, but the reason was that we were competing an International Quickstep Showdance at the Florida Stare Championships! So we dedicated it to him, and we hope he would have been pleased.
God bless,
Laurie

A Joyful Noise said...

Thanks Laurie for the lovely tribute to a truely gentleman and dancer. He was a kind and loving man who gave of himself for the benefit of others.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Hazel, for your sweet comment! Blessings to you,
Lauroe

caryjo said...

What a blessing to see how someone was been a blessing... when I leave for heaven some day, it would be nice to have my kids/g-kids/husband and friends see such a sweet article written about me. [I guess that means I better keep being nice and helpful and serving the Lord. Hmm!] Your story was worth a smile and filled with appreciation.

Dolly @Soulstops said...

oh, Laurie, what a loving tribute to your friend Alan...sorry for your loss...what a gift to be able to dance and have such fond memories...blessings to you.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Caryjo,
Thanks so much for your lovely comment! I'm sure your family would write lovely things about you, but I really hope we all get Raptured first!
God bless,
Laurie

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Dolly, for your dear words of encouragement. I love your post on Jubi and am sending cyberhugs your way.
God bless,
Laurie

Emily Wierenga said...

i am very sorry for your loss, sweet laurie. what a touching tribute.

Mandy said...

I'm sorry for your loss. What a lovely you pay here. Prayers for you!

Jennifer Dawn McLucas said...

What a kind tribute!

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Emily, Mandy, & Jennifer,
Thanks so much for your kind comments!
Blessings to you, lovely ladies, and love in Him,
Laurie

MB@NewLifeSteward said...

He sounds like a true gentleman--a rarity these days.

Thanks for linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Ms. Kathleen said...

Hugs all around on the loss of your dear friend. He will be missed and fondly remembered.


http://thejoyfulservant.com

Laurie Collett said...

Dear MB@NewLifeSteward,
Alan was a true gentleman indeed! Thanks for your comment & for hosting WIP Wed.. & God bless,
Laurie

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Ms. Kathleen,
Thanks so much for the hugs & kind words, & God bless,
Laurie

Joan said...

I didn't know you had another blog, but knew you danced.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend and mentor.

Blessings,
Joan

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Joan, for your visit & comment! This blog is devoted to dancing, and I also have a third blog at our other website describing our dance ministry:
http://www.praisehimwithdance.com/
God bless,
Laurie

Denise said...

So very sorry for your loss.

Deanna Kohlhofer said...

What a great tribute to your friend. Although it is always sad, I do love to see the legacies people leave behind and the impact they have had on those around them.

Deanna Kohlhofer said...

What a great tribute to your friend. Although it is always sad, I do love to see the legacies people leave behind and the impact they have had on those around them.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise and Deanna, for your kind comments! When we reflect on the lives of those who are no longer with us, it reminds us of the opportunity we have to make a positive impact on others while we are still blessed with life on earth.
Love in Him,
Laurie

Ivor Evans said...

Alan and Iris, his then wife, also enthused us and helped to teach us to dance - but this time in the UK and long ago. They were our neighbours in Malvern, Worcestershire, England and when we expressed an interest in learning to dance, insisted that they came along with us - to beginners classes! It didn't take long for the penny to drop but, in typical fashion, they insisted that they needed to improve their basics too!

This was in the early 70s and we spent many happy hours with Alan and Iris, some of it at the dance studio in Worcester but probably more in our various living rooms late at night! I remember playing Neil Diamond's 'Hot August Night' over and over again!

As has been often said, Alan was the typical English gentleman and we shall always remember him for his great charm, humour and gentleness.

We loved him very much and, although not seeing a great deal of him and Diana in later years, we shall always do so

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Ivor,
Thank you so much for your comment! What a lovely view of Alan years before we met him! He did indeed leave a legacy of charm, humor, and gentleness.
Blessings to you,
Laurie

Claire Budd said...

Hi don't know if you still do your blog but Alan tuggey was my great uncle he was a lovely man sadly missed xx x

Claire Budd said...

He was a lovely man, he was my great uncle and what a amazing dancer he was was well x

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Claire,
Thank you so much for your comment! Alan was indeed a lovely gentleman and amazing dancer. We are so sorry for your loss. Don't know if you're a dancer or are ever near Tampa, Florida, but we would love to have you visit Rhapsody Ballroom whenever you can so that we can meet you in person!
God bless,
Laurie & Richard

Claire Budd said...

hi thanks for the reply

Would love to visit but I live in the uk maybe one day xxx

Laurie Collett said...

You're very welcome, Claire! Hope to meet you one day! We're only a few minutes from Busch Gardens, less than an hour from Orlando (Disney World and Sea World) and very near beautiful beaches! God bless.

Claire Budd said...

I have been to Busch gardens and sea world I
Love Florida x