How I started dancing or confessions of a purple leotard ballerina I was three years old when the dance world came to me. Little did I know at the time that acting like a frog, jumping up and down, turning out my toes and tumbling in somersaults across the floor would lead to a lifelong journey of dance.
The dance school that started it all was Janet Carlton’s School of Dance in Mt. Healthy, Ohio. Not a bustling town by any means, Mt. Healthy was fully equipped with tiny shops and businesses along quiet streets but Janet’s place made Mt. Healthy exciting. Every Saturday morning, cars of little girls clad in black leotard and tights were dropped off to the studio on McKinney Street. This was my home away from home for years.
Janet practiced technique and form utilizing all of her teachings as a professional ballerina: stand up straight was her motto. To ensure every little bottom was tucked in, she came around the room and pinched and poked our bums to stay in place. I was no exception.
I was no exception to any rule-but with all rules I somehow, even from an early age I always seemed to quietly break them. The other girls were always picture perfect with their clean black leotard, pink tights, curved ballet slippers to match their forming arches, thin bodies and neat buns pulled away from fresh faces. Then there was me. I mean ME!! On the other side of the room, I came in with my purple leotard, matching tights and, of course the famous pixie haircut…telling jokes and sharing stories. No one told me that a little girl with a budding body and not exactly a flat butt could not dance ballet. I kept going…and learning…and just trying to find my place on the dance floor.
Through performances, costumes and critiques I formed my love of dance. During college, it led me to study modern which accepted my body and craving for movement. Yoga straightened out my internal and external stuff (literally). But it was salsa that captured me.
I found salsa in Miami, Florida during a fashion design co op. During a night out, little did I know that I was at a salsa bar. As soon as I witnessed a sea of salsa dancers on the floor, I was hooked. It was their beauty and connection that struck me. Everyone as a dancer with salsa. This was home. This is it.
Soon after, my job opportunity in NYC fell through and I stayed in Cincinnati to find work and mold a career. Then, a friend and I went to The Corinthian and my salsa journey started. I found people from all over the world just like in Miami. I started dancing every night and soon started teaching with Ron Hamad at the Clifton YMCA.
Now, fourteen years later, I am still learning, teaching and dancing. I will never forget how I started, where I was and how dance made me feel. It took the first step and I hope to share it with others always.
Keep dancing and never be afraid to wear your own style.