Be the Change: Tana Macy, A Life Of Joy

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Tana Macy, former owner of Siskiyou Dance Company in Weed, retired in 2013. Having taught dance for most of her life, making this decision didn’t come easily. “Dance is part of my identity,” she reveals, “but it was time to move on.” Two motivators helped her make the shift: her desire to spend more time with her husband, Mike, and the encouragement of a good friend. Her comfort at leaving the studio increased through knowing it would continue under the able leadership of Rena Moll.

Dancing began for Tana when she was 3. She took lessons from a neighbor. By the time she was 12, she was teaching. “I recruited neighborhood kids,” she says. She eventually had two classes of 15 students each. She continued teaching through high school.

Tana’s mother encouraged her dancing and understanding of the art. “She took me to every ballet and tap performance she could,” Tana recalls. “By seeing other productions and working on my own, I discovered my niche was creating a show and putting it together.” She created Goldilocks and the Three Bears at 16. As an instructor and producer, some of her original performances included Growing Green, The Great Disneyland Caper, and Alice’s Wacky Wonderland.

art-0114-btc4Tana was born and raised in Coronado, California. She attended San Diego Mesa College and danced there as well as with the San Diego Civic Ballet. After marrying, she and Mike moved from San Diego and lived a short time in Oregon and in Canada. Thirty-five years ago they moved to the Hammond Ranch area in Siskiyou County where they raised three children. Mike worked in logging, then became a dental technician. Tana started teaching a dance class and shortly after took over for Merlin Freeze, who had a studio in Weed. That became the Siskiyou Dance Company where Tana taught and produced for 31 years. “Over the years I taught thousands of students,” she says. “They were the most important part of my career.” Those who stayed with her for a long time became like family.

art-0114-btc3Two students began lessons when they were 3 and continued consistently through high school. One of them, Katee (Gray) Sandhagen, now has two children of her own and is a nurse in Chico. “As well as teaching me to dance, Tana helped me with self-confidence and self-esteem, and showed me how to become a strong woman.” Linda Salanti, Katee’s mother, agrees. “Tana made it possible for Katee to succeed in areas other than dance. She came from the heart and showed her students about life.”

Tana knows how to create a rich life beyond dancing. She is a writer of children’s books, a poet, an artist who creates her own gift cards, and an organic farmer. Tap Shoes and Horse Shoes, published in 2011, is the story of Bill, a farm kid with two left feet until he learns to tap dance with his favorite horse Harry. Two other books are completed and awaiting publication. One, The Old Tin Cow, is about the tin cow sculpture on I-5 north of Weed – in the story, the tin cow comes alive.

art-0114-btc1On their organic farm, the Macys produce nearly every vegetable one can think of except okra and eggplant. Their signature crop of 20-30 kinds of lettuce, in addition to the other vegetables, supply their own needs with enough to sell to neighbors and supply the McCloud Hotel restaurant and Café Maddalena in Dunsmuir. They raise apple, cherry, pear plum and peach trees, and harvest honey from their own bees. Their animals include chickens, sheep, and milk goats. During the summer they make goat cheese.

Tana and Mike love working the farm and cooking together. Now that both are retired, they plan to do some bicycle touring, especially exploring Siskiyou County and the northern coast. “We are happy and enjoy spending time together,” relates Tana.

Tana’s rich and fulfilling life has a strong spiritual base. The Bible and her tenet, “Love God, love people, love life, and love to laugh,” have served as her foundation. I can’t think of any book other than the Bible that has been more of an influence on my life,” she says. Tana’s joy and love of life spill over to the many lives she touches.

To contact Tana, and for book information, call (530) 938-4089. 

Carolyn Warnemuende
About Carolyn Warnemuende

Author Carolyn Warnemuende has two daughters and five grandchildren, and lives with her husband in Redding. She writes parenting and educational articles, sponsors a school in Uganda, and visits Africa twice a year. She receives great joy in taking daily care of her four-year-old granddaughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.

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