Louise Pelaia performed in her first dance recital at the age of 3 and went on to touch many lives as a dance instructor at her own school -- Louise School of Dance -- in Baden, where she taught up until the day before she died at home in her sleep from natural causes. She was 77.
Mrs. Pelaia opened her first dance studio at the age of 16 in the basement of her mother's home in Economy. Her mother played piano while Mrs. Pelaia guided her pupils through the steps they needed to learn for tango, tap, ballet, jazz and ballroom dancing.
"She loved to dance," said her daughter, Trina Basalyga of Columbus, Ohio. "She loved children and people. She wanted to devote her life to teaching dance because she had a passion for it."
Students from age 3 to 83 years old learned to dance under the watchful eye of Mrs. Pelaia for more than 60 years.
Couples often signed up for lessons to learn ballroom dancing for their wedding receptions. Sometimes the entire bridal party would take lessons. But she taught anyone who was interested in dancing for any reasons. At one point in the late 1950s, Mrs. Basalyga said, her mother was hired by the Ambridge football coach to teach ballet to his players.
"The team would come into the studio at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. in the morning so that no one would see them, and they would practice ballet for an hour," Mrs. Basalyga said.
"The coaches wanted the football players to increase their flexibility and learn coordination. That's where ballet came in."
Her son-in-law, Paul Pringle, said of her: "Dancing was in her blood. It's all she's ever done. It made her day to teach younger children. She called them her extended family."
A native of Economy, Mrs. Pelaia was a member of Our Lady of Peace Church in Conway. In addition to Mrs. Basalyga, she is survived by another daughter, Deonna Pringle of Freedom.
Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. today in John Syka Funeral Home, 833 Kennedy Drive, Ambridge. Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church. Entombment will follow in Sylvania Hills Mausoleum, Rochester Borough.
Tim Grant: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1591.