Featured Students - Jan Harris and Laurel Lombardi
"Dance Buddies" Laurel and Jan have been taking class together for many years - read their inspiring stories .
Like so many other bun heads, I discovered ballet at seven years old, by following an older sister to class. From the start I loved everything about ballet - the music, the movement, the discipline and especially the competition with my sister. Whether I ever beat her is questionable, but I certainly outlasted her, and ballet became a life-long passion.
Regrettably, I drifted away from dance in high school, again following my sister into cheerleading and sports. Luckily, I found ballet again in college and never looked back.
I picked up my Cecchetti training at a local studio and took my grade six student exam and one through four as a teacher. I was fortunate to teach there for many years and to continue taking classes. I met Jan in one of those classes and we soon bonded over the love of ballet and the determination to improve no matter what our age.
Ballet is the gift I give myself each week. Jan and I are together in this, though I will admit, pink tights are far in the past for me.
At ten years old, after seeing a younger neighbor playing dress-up in her beautiful costumes and watching the sexy Emma Peel in her black leotards and tights, I just knew I needed to see what ballet class was all about. It was a rude awakening to have to wear pick tights along with that black leotard! Somehow, the challenge of working my body to move fluidly to the music and the discipline that it took to maintain the strength, flexibility, and balance hooked me into a lifelong obsession of ballet.
I had the wonderful experience of dancing with the Flint Ballet Theatre for over a decade and will always remember the thrill of performing to live music provided by the Flint Symphony Orchestra – it was like hearing the music for the first time, after months of rehearsing to a taped recording.
When I moved to the Detroit area, my first quest was to find a dance studio. That pattern has continued as I moved around the metropolitan area. At first, it had to be a Cecchetti studio (as that was where my training began), but in later years I also came to love various other styles, including Vaganova and Balanchine. I was open to whatever I could learn and found something of value from each of my teachers.
Many friendships were also formed over the years. Laurel and I met at class and have become ballet buddies. We hold each other accountable, share rides, offer encouragement, issue reminders and challenge each other as we overcome injuries and age-related issues while taking class. Sometimes the weather, family demands, work or exhaustion make one of us want to miss class, but the other is always there and we can’t let them down.
Grab a buddy or meet someone in class and make a commitment to enjoy the benefits of ballet - great exercise, wonderful stress reliever and a beautiful art form. And, you don’t even have to wear pink tights, but I still do!