Programs & Classes
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Si necesita asistencia en español para inscribirse en clases o necesita información sobre nuestros programas llame al 210-207-3047.
Hours of operation: As scheduled for classes.
Telephone number: 207-3132
A variety of dance programming is offered at the Berta Almaguer Dance Studio. For more information visit our dance programming page. The studio is located adjacent to Woodlawn Lake Park.
Berta Almaguer was born in 1904 at Parras, Coahuila (near Saltillo) Mexico. Her father, Victor, was an accomplished musician, composer and music teacher. Her mother, Pomposita, taught musical scales to prospective voice and music students. Berta spent her childhood in her maternal grandfather’s hacienda, "Agua Nueva," where she was privately tutored. She played the violin and her favorite instruments, the piano and organ. Her singing voice was beautiful.
In March 1917, Bertita, as she was affectionately known, her father and mother and her brothers Rodolfo, Homero, Oralia and Raul moved to San Antonio where they lived for over 50 years. Music became an even more important part of her and her family’s life in their new home. Bertita never danced in public but took dancing lessons from Carmen Moore and Adela Hidalgo. These two accomplished dancers along with Eddie Martinez, were the dance team with brother Rudolfo’s Mexican Serenadors Orchestra. Bertita’s musical and dance talents were well known and she was much sought after to teach.
In 1934 she interviewed for a job with the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department to teach music and dance. This first work was so popular and so successful that she remained with the program until her retirement in 1970. Berta, who never married, taught thousands of students some of which went on to very successful careers in dance. Timo Lozano, Felipe de la Rosa, Cruz Luna, Marina "Nita" Gonzales and Jackie Sparks.
bertaWhen she started to teach she taught by her own accompaniment. She went to centers that had a piano; she would gather her class, placing them in order of height, so that all could see her. She would demonstrate the dance step until the students understood the mechanics, then she would go to the piano and play the music while the students performed the step. And so it went until the dance number was taught. The number of students began to grow and at the height of the dance popularity, classes grew to astounding numbers. As many as 125 students per class. These large classes were held in the Berta Almaguer Dance Studio and they had to be very innovative in how that many students were taught.
Every summer vacation was spent touring Mexico, searching for costumes, dances, sequins and music. She would return laden with fabric, music and castanets. The castanets were taken to dance classes for children to borrow. Her lifelong friend, Martha Dickey, would sketch the costumes they saw in Mexico, later to be made by the mothers of the students. Bertita took her charge of teaching children very seriously. She would not tolerate jealousy, hatred or gossip. She felt a great responsibility to the children that were under her care. She often told her niece, Yolanda Jensen, that every day was very important to a child because today is tomorrow’s memories. She believed that children should remember their childhood as being filled with learning wonderful things like dancing, making life long friendships and knowing about their culture.
bertaMs. Jensen says her aunt would be so proud to see how the dance program has grown and now can even boast of the establishment of a professional dance company. Her photograph will now hang here for all to see that once there was this wonderful lady who started with an idea to teach children folkloric dance. This idea became part of San Antonio’s culture. In her 36 years with Parks and Recreation she taught countless thousands, many of whom went on to success and fame in dancing careers. She is remembered with love and respect. Bertita died in 1971 but she will be remembered always as the lady who shared her love and her talents with family, friends, and students and indeed with the whole city of San