LARGO, Fla. — Dot Bunting held a remote controller for the stereo loosely in her hand with her feet pressed together. She stared through her thinly-rimmed glasses critiquing her students' every step.

“I’m strict but loving,” she said. “I’ve tried to retire four or five times. Can’t do it.”

At 91, Dot is a rarity. She’s still teaching the craft she’s practiced for more than eight decades three days per week at the Largo Community Center.

“It’s my favorite hour and a half of the week,” said Kim Janssen, who spent her birthday in one of Dot’s tap dance classes. “I actually told my boss I wasn’t going to work during the days of class. That was part of my being hired.”

Dot started dancing at six while growing up in New Jersey. She moved to Florida in 1944. Two years later she found herself in the winning duo during a jitterbug dance-off in St. Petersburg. It was her second date with Archie. The married shortly thereafter.

“In those days, every Friday night there was a dance in downtown St. Pete,” said Archie Bunting, as he watched his wife teach through the open window of the dance studio.

Dot has been dancing for 85 years and teaching nearly as long. Her ballet and tap classes draw students across multiple decades.

“I have taken classes from dance teachers all over the country and by far she is the most knowledgeable dance teacher I’ve ever taken tap from,” Carrie Rokasz said. “Everybody says, ‘Oh my gosh. How does she do it?’”

Nancy Petula wore an ‘I heart tap’ t-shirt to class this day. She wandered in just to ask about dance opportunities.

Dot drew her in immediately.

“Oh my gosh, yes. Very encouraging. Very inspiring,” said Nancy, who has only been dancing for a month and a half with Dot. “I’m not there yet but I’m trying.”

The entire class, made up of nearly a dozen women, are preparing for a performance at the Largo Community Center on June 20. They will take lessons learned from their 91-year-old teacher and show off on the main ballet stage.

“She encourages us to do more than we can do and to try harder every day and it’s really cool,” said Rokasz.

For Dot, it’s just doing what she loves.

“The music inspires me and I want to do something with it.”

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