Carol Zagar's life of movement

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By Robert Villanueva

Carol Zagar’s life is all about movement. Among other roles, Zagar is a dance instructor, choreographer and physical therapist.


“I started dance when I was 5,” Zagar recalled.

At the time, her family was living in a suburb of Cincinnati.

When the PTA of her school brought in dance teacher Jack Louiso to provide instruction after school, Zagar’s parents agreed to allow her and her two siblings to take lessons, she said.

“That was an activity that they could afford all three of us (to) do,” she said.

Louiso was choreographer for the Cincinnati Opera Ballet.

Bitten by the bug, Zagar continued her pursuit of education in dance when her family moved to Chicago, where she trained at Ruth Page School of Ballet and Ellis DuBoulay School of Ballet. Eventually, Zagar acquired her bachelor’s degree in dance from Butler University in Indianapolis.

In 1985, Zagar started Allegro Dance Theatre in Radcliff. She provided lessons through Colvin Community Center.

“They needed another activity for kids,” she said.

Back then she had about 15 students.

“Then it just grew and grew,” Zagar said.

In 1990, ADT moved to a location on Knox Boulevard. After more moving around, the studio found its present home on North Wilson Road.

The dance studio now has about 200 students who take classes in tap, ballet, jazz, musical theater and modern dance.

“We have truly outgrown the space where we are right now,” Zagar said.

ADT is serious business for Zagar, too.

“It’s not just a place to drop off the kids for daycare,” she said.

Dance education at all levels is the priority for Zagar, and she considers ADT a school. Students should be learning during the classes.

“If they’re not learning, we need to figure out what the problem is,” she said.

Students must also want to learn in order to be successful, Zagar said.

“Discipline is a big deal, also commitment,” she said.

She credits the instructors at her school with being a big part of ADT’s success.

“My husband taught me: to make yourself look good, you surround yourself with people who can do things,” Zagar said.

Dance instruction at her studio is not her only involvement with dance.

For about 25 years, Zagar has been the choreographer for Youth Theatre of Hardin County. She is also on the board of directors for the organization.

Betty Marsee, who along with her husband, Bill, is a YTHC co-president, praised Zagar’s contributions to YTHC.

“Her organizational skills are remarkable,” Betty said.

Zagar likes to concentrate on the educational part of the program with the students and works well with them, she said.

“She’s just so dedicated,” Betty said.

But dance instruction and choreography are not the only jobs that fill Zagar’s life. In her other career as a degreed physical therapist, she works for Rebecca Massey Physical Therapy Associates in Vine Grove.

In a way, her two jobs are similar.

“It is just movement,” she said.

Physical therapy can involve simple movement like walking, while dance can involve complex movement like ballet, Zagar said.

“One really does help the other,” she said.

Zagar is on hiatus from her role as physical therapist due to a death in the family last July, which has required her help in settling some affairs.

In fact, in the past five years, Zagar has lost her parents, her husband and her husband’s parents. Her husband, Andy, was a performing arts instructor with Hardin County Schools.

Zagar said her busy schedule has kept her from dwelling on her losses. It was a better alternative to staying at home.

“You’re not going to feel better,” she said of that option.

Another important aspect of her life is her family and raising her two children, Alice, 11, and Will, 14. She manages to schedule her jobs around her role as a mother.

Picking up the kids from school usually falls between her day job as a physical therapist and what she considers her evening job as a dance instructor. Usually she is done at ADT about 7:30 p.m.

Her active lifestyle is not lost on others, either.

“She’s so busy all of the time and handles it all so well,” Marsee said.

Zagar indicated her life — with all the financial, business, educational and emotional aspects — required the sort of poise that she’s honed as a dancer.

“It is a major balancing act,” she said.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.


Town of birth: Cincinnati, Ohio; adopted at age 2 months from the Cincinnati Presbyterian Children's Home

Town of residence: Elizabethtown

Favorite music: “Any musical theater Broadway-style show; any ballet music.”

Favorite book: “Little Women,” Louisa May Alcott

Hobbies: “The studio and all of my students are my hobbies. Making costumes, props, scenery — that’s what takes up any extra time.”

Favorite musical: “Crazy for You,” “... The first show I ever saw on Broadway.”

Favorite ballet: “Coppelia”