The School of Creative Arts (SOCA) was another planet, an experience that began 65 years ago thanks to the creativity, inspiration, determination and motivation of Kathleen Hinni. She was a modern dance teacher in New York and New Jersey.

Those experiences and memories of SOCA are deemed highly life changing by some former students. Four of us get together every summer and reminisce about those long-ago days in the 1950s and 1960s. We are Jessica Langton Andrews, Susan Kanowith-Klein, Gillian Lamb Butchman and Cynthia Vanderhoop Akins (pictured here). All have Island connections and fly in from Arizona, California, Washington State and Utah, respectively. Once or twice, the school’s ballet teacher, Kathleen Costanza, would join the group. Gillian is the daughter of Helen Lamb who created Jabberwocky in Vineyard Haven, Jessica is the daughter of Basil Langton, who ran the Rice Playhouse in Oak Bluffs for several summers, and Cynthia is part of the renowned Vanderhoop family of Aquinnah.

Martha’s Vineyard provided the ideal location for a summer camp, which flourished in its last home in a large three-story building in West Chop until 1967. Girls of all ages, youngsters to teens, from off-Island and a few from the Vineyard, participated in the arts for two months. Professional teachers conducted daily classes of ballet, art, drama and music. Modern dance was taught by KT as Kathleen Hinni was affectionately (and sometimes not so affectionately) known. Swimming, picnics, folk dancing, Island cultural events and guest artists such as Burl Ives and Pearl Primus, were also part of the school’s program. Margaret Bourke-White, renown photographer, participated in dance classes to assist with her illness. “Leotards, shorts and sweaters” would be the first thing students would hear early each morning from the counselors before breakfast and scurrying off to classes. Jessica and Susan were campers. Gillian and Cynthia were counselors working with the beloved Lana Gerhardt, the head counselor. Lana joined us during our summer get togethers until she died four years ago.

Alas, KT closed the school and moved to Florida. We learned she taught aerobic water dance to other seniors until she died in 1995. Ever energetic and caring, she was also ornery and unpredictable, an enigma we are still trying to figure out.

We often ponder how to create a get together with other former students of the school. Perhaps some will see, share and help us create the opportunity. (Our email addresses are:;;;

Jessica Andrews
Oak Bluffs and Tucson, Ariz.

This letter is also signed by Cynthia Akins, Gillian Butchman and Susan Kanowith-Klein.