Deceased dance instructor honored in Turlock

mrowland@modbee.comAugust 12, 2013 

    alternate textMarijke Rowland
    Title: Arts & Entertainment Writer
    Coverage areas: Fine arts, pop culture and other entertainment throughout the Central Valley and foothills.
    Bio: Marijke Rowland has been a reporter at The Bee for 15 years. She grew up in the Midwest and has a degree in journalism from Indiana University. She has covered several beats at The Bee from education to entertainment to employment.
    Recent stories written by Marijke
    On Twitter: @marijkerowland

— Dancers did what they did best to honor their former instructor Karly Barker on Monday evening.

Benefit classes were held at Turlock's Backstage Academy of Dance to raise funds for the family of the 19-year-old former student and current instructor at the school, who died suddenly from an aneurysm Aug. 4.

Barker had attended the dance studio since she was 5 years old and been an instructor there for the past four years. She taught jazz, hip-hop and ballet to students ages 3 to adult.

Backstage Academy of Dance owner Kristi Garcia organized a benefit for Barker on Monday, offering three classes — contemporary, hip-hop and jazz — with all funds raised going to Barker's family and their Karly Barker Scholarship Fund. More than $2,100 was raised for the fund.

Barker, who graduated from Hilmar High School in 2011, had completed a year at the University of California, Merced and dreamed of becoming a pediatrician.

Garcia said Barker had about 25 students in her current classes. The school, which was founded in 1981, has about 250 students. The instructors teaching the fund-raiser classes donated their time for the event.

Garcia said the loss is a shock to all of the instructors and students.

"She was an amazing young lady," Garcia said. "I could say she didn't really know a stranger. You could know her for your whole life or for five minutes and you'd think you knew her forever. People loved her, of all ages."

A celebration of Barker's life will be at 10 a.m. today at the New Life Christian Center, 2918 W. Tuolumne, Turlock. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Karly Barker Scholarship Fund at F&M Bank, P.O. Box 759, Hilmar 95324.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on

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