Doreen’s School of the Dance celebrates 60 years of success

Doreen's dancers

Owner Mimi Costa-White teaches a class of tap dancers at Doreen’s School of the Dance in Antioch.

By Allen Payton

For over 60 years, Doreen’s School of the Dance has been teaching students ballet, tap and jazz, in Antioch. Started by Doreen Pokusa, in 1954, the school has been owned by her daughter, Mimi Costa-White for the last 35 years, after having worked there since she was a young girl.

The school’s first performance was held at the El Campanil Theatre in Antioch’s historic downtown Rivertown, and some of the students autographs can be seen on the wall downstairs in the dressing rooms. These days their annual performances are held in June, at Antioch High’s Beede Auditorium, which has a much larger stage and can hold twice as many people.

The main thrust of our studio is not about competition,” Costa-White shared. “We’re a family studio and all students get to perform on stage.”

The net proceeds from the performance have always gone to college scholarships at both Antioch and Deer Valley High Schools, she added.

Several of their students have gone on to dance on Broadway and for all the Disney theme parks. Others have gone to work behind the scenes, as well and one former student is now an executive at Disney.

Their students get the benefit of Costa-White’s nationally recognized knowledge and experience. She is the past National President of Dance Masters of America (DMA), a 145-year-old organization in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

She’s the author of the DMA Ballet Manual, entitled “The Art of Teaching Ballet,” which is required reading to pass the test for those who want to be members of the organization. It is used in hundreds of ballet studios across the country.

All of Doreen’s teachers are members of DMA and are certified to teach ballet.

Costa-White was also an administrator at the DMA’s teacher training school at the State University of New York in Buffalo, which put her in charge of both the faculty and curriculum.

Dancing since the age of three, her extensive dance education includes studying with the San Francisco Ballet and The Royal Academy of Dancing. She has performed with the San Francisco State University Dance Ensemble and the New York City Ballet.

She also knew the famous Donald O’Connor, who danced with Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain,” and served as President of the Professional Dancers Society, which Costa-White was a member.

However, her time, now is focused here, in Antioch and devoted to their students.

We love these children like they’re our own family,” Costa-White stated. “We teach in a loving and encouraging environment with mutual respect – and we never raise our voices to our kids.”

The school has taught many families throughout the years.

We have third and fourth-generation students,” she added.

Known as Miss Mimi, Costa-White says in her welcome letter to students “Dance offers so much more than just competency of steps. We encourage and nurture the love of all types of music, develop poise and confidence, emphasize motor skills and, above all, have fun!”

Doreen’s School of the Dance is located at 520 West Third Street. For more information visit them online at or call (925) 757-8981.

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Doreen’s dancers

One Comment to “Doreen’s School of the Dance celebrates 60 years of success”

  1. Everett Brooks says:

    I miss Mr. White every day. I loved him like a dad. As you can tell by my email I am also a teacher- mostly because of him… Even though I openly disappointed him by no becoming a music teacher. I was one of his junior high students that he followed to the Antioch High School. God I miss this wonderful, gracious, man. I only wish he could throw his timing stick at me one more time.

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