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June Panagakos Podagrosi

June Panagakos Podagrosi

Founder, executive director | Child’s Play Touring Theatre | Class of 1977

An Illini love story, ’70s dance edition ...

“When school started, I was president of the Student Dance Action Group,” says June Panagakos Podagrosi (MA ’77, dance; pictured with actor Ben Vereen). “My late husband Victor joined me in my search for a suitable space for a dance concert.

“He jumped down from the Quad wall and reintroduced himself — I told him I had no time to chat and that I needed to find a space for a dance concert.

“Victor said he had a theatre that would be perfect and I told him I was from New York and heard everything. Victor accompanied me to the office of space utilization. He described each space before we got there and why his theatre would be much better.

“I said OK and sure enough, the Armory Free Theatre was a great venue — except it was a cement floor. I brought the other dancers to see the space and we agreed to dance in tennis shoes and modify the space.

“It was the beginning of us working together and we did get married shorty after, in 1978, the same time we founded the Child’s Play Touring Theatre.

Charles Petering, another student who was our best man, informed me a few years ago that Victor exclaimed to him that day that I was the girl he was going to marry.”