Tara Palsha

Dancer for the Ages

Photo by Anthony Mair

Photo by Anthony Mair

Less than 10 years ago, an eager young dancer from Pittsburgh sat in the audience of a darkened Las Vegas showroom and watched the lead showgirls with envy. “Oh my God, I want to be her,” she said to herself.

Most people stop there, playing sour grapes with an unfulfilled wish. But not Tara Palsha. Today, the fiery redhead sizzles as the lead dancer of Vegas: The Show. And in the eight years she’s lived in Las Vegas, she’s also danced in Jubilee!, Bite, Fantasy and Peepshow.

“I manifested this destiny, where I am right now, and I am literally living my dream,” says Palsha, now 33. “Everything I’ve been setting out to do, it’s been happening.”

But amid a sea of aspiring Las Vegas showgirls, how did Palsha stand out?

For one, her talent. When she dances “Luck Be a Lady,” her body moves as if guided by a direct psychic channel to Old Hollywood.

What’s her secret? “Hard, hard, hard work,” she says. “I train at ballroom all day, and most people are too exhausted to throw heels on during the day and dance before they actually have to do their job.”

Indeed, between 12 performances a week and competing for fun in local Latin ballroom competitions, Palsha seems superhuman. But, of course, she’s not. Palsha must deal with the same physical limitations as the rest of us.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’m in a lot of pain,” she says. “I’ve been dancing for 29 years straight. That’s a long time. Your body starts to say, ‘OK, I’ve had enough.’”

Naturally, her response to pain reveals the very determination that has made her successful: Push through it.

And while she will dance as long as she can, Palsha will never stop performing. She’s taking voice lessons, stretching the vocal chords she inherited from her mom, who was a soloist for the Pittsburgh Opera. Palsha certainly has a long career ahead of her—including Broadway and film aspirations—but if she ever gets bored, she could always do motivational speaking.

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