For 16 years, Viva Performing Arts Dance Studio was the epicenter for youth folklrico training on Tucson’s Southside.

Its founder, Julie Gallego, had long been a well-respected dance instructor in the area, teaching an entire generation of children at the facility, built on South Park Avenue by the father of one of her students.

She was able to provide the foundation for us all these years, said Pilar Kirkendall, Gallego’s niece, who was a dancer at Viva Performing Arts as a child, and now she has two daughters in the program.

Training at Viva was a tradition for aspiring dancers in the area, but that tradition nearly ended earlier this year, when Gallego decided she wanted to retire.

I said Im going to put the building up for sale and see what happens,” Gallego said. “It sold in two months.”

When Gallego broke the news to her daughter and niece, Pilar, both of whom help Gallego teach, they took it hard.

“Everyone was like, ‘No, not yet. We can’t let go of all the families,'” Gallego said. “It was not an easy decision for me.”

Gallego decided to reboot her business, and plans to open a new location at 3708 S. 16th Ave., near West Ajo Way and Interstate 19. But this time, she wants to her family to run things.

“That legacy she has provided, we just want to keep it going, Kirkendall said.

Its really nice that shes able to continue it so that future generations can keep it going, said Pilar Kirkendalls daughter, Alesandra.

The new location is still under construction, but Viva is expected to be back in business by mid-January. For more updates, go to