Final curtain call: Retired Stamford dance instructor sells costumes to benefit performing arts programs

The 89-year-old decided to retire during the pandemic, and the hundreds of costumes that shined on stage for decades are now being passed on to the next generation.

Mar 2, 2023, 1:33 PM

Updated 445 days ago


A retired dance instructor from Stamford is inspiring the next generation of performers by selling his old recital costumes.
Walter Schalk danced professionally in New York City before becoming an instructor.
"I played at Madison Square Garden," Schalk said. "I did the show with Frank Sinatra. I did the Ed Sullivan show a few times."
In 1957, Schalk transitioned to teaching. He started instructing children in New Canaan, specializing in ballroom and musical theater styles of dance. Over the years, the Walter Schalk School of Dance expanded to Wilton, Ridgefield, Darien, Greenwich and parts of New York. 
"We trained 168,000 dancers, which is quite a few kids," Schalk remembered.
Schalk's students and their parents would sew costumes for each recital. After 62 years of performances, Schalk has thousands of them. 
The 89-year-old retired at the height of the pandemic. He told News 12 he didn't want to dispose of the costumes, so he decided to sell them and donate the proceeds to local youth performing arts groups.
"Knowing that more kids will be able to experience that in an environment where they can put on those performances, that those funds will help that, I think is really great," one of Schalk's former students, Rachel Waters, said.
The costumes are being sold at a pop-up shop at 21 River Road in Wilton. The shop will remain open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 15.
Those looking to purchase costumes can call Schalk at 203-858-3362 or email

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