92-year-old dancer helped bring ballroom to South Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A woman born on Chicago's West Side in 1924 is still doing what she loves the most. Doris Humphries is a 92-year-old tap instructor who doesn't miss a step - and she is Chicago Proud.

"I just love it. I love dancing, I love teaching, I love putting on shows and it's just a thing I love to do from childhood, actually," Humphries said.

Since the age of 11, Dance Gallery Chicago's senior tap instructor has been tapping her feet in dance studios across the city. At Englewood High School, she met her first dance partner.

"I never really said I was going to do it, it came to me through a friend of mine. She met me in school, we were going to Englewood and she was a dancer. Matter of fact she had been dancing quite a bit before I had. She saw me and she decided we should team up. We got together and teamed up!" Humphries said.

From the Apollo Theater in New York to the Golden Gate Theater in San Francisco, the pair saw the country.

Doris broadened her dance skills when she began her training in Latin dance.

"The salsa, the mambo, bachata, merengue, tango," she laughed. "I have no favorite truly, I love them all. Really it's the rhythm, the music. It's rhythm and music."

She met her second partner and they were known as Tonya and Tanya, a rare interracial dance pair performing a combination of Latin and soul.

In 1946, she gave up show business to get married and raise a family. Then she began to learn new types of dance.

"When the kids got a pretty good age, I saw an ad in the paper about being a ballroom instructor. So I went and was trained to be a ballroom instructor," Humphries said.

"My mother never ever talks about the fact that she was very instrumental to bringing ballroom to the South Side," said Kathleen Humphries-Grannum, Humphries' daughter. "She was trained in the Author Murray style of ballroom and she literally brought ballroom to the black population. She never talks about that, I had to discover that."

She also discovered her mother was in a movie.

"I'm sitting there and I see my mother come on the TV within a movie with the Three Stooges and I was blown away," Kathleen said.

Doris's daughter and students have a great appreciation of the legacy she is leaving behind.

"You know what I get it, she doesn't. I get it, I totally get it. We are all just incredibly proud to be a part of her classes and to be part of her legacy. For the rest of us who are the beneficiaries of that kind of heritage, it's amazing and so many of her students don't know her background and once they find out we couldn't be prouder. We get it," Kathleen said.

Today, Humphries continues her love of dance. If you ask her if she'll teach forever, she'll say, "I think so, as long God says OK, I'm going."

Want to see her dance? Humphries has an upcoming show called, "On Broadway." There's a performance at 1 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 3, at the Mother McAuley High School auditorium, 3737 W 99th St. in Chicago.

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