JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Thirty six young ballet dancers, all clad in black, graced the stage at the Riverside Arts Market, Saturday.
The young ladies, all part of a summer intensive program at the Monet School of Ballet, performed original choreographed numbers and classical ballet pieces for the Arts Market crowd.
Leah Simpson, owner of the school, said they had been trying to get this space for ages, but the stage was always booked. Having the opportunity to perform for such a crowd was important to the dancers and really exciting, Leah said.
Leah is just 20, but she has been teaching for nearly two years and she has had the Monet School open for a little over a year, she says. The school has nearly 50 students as they head into the fall semester of classes.
Before Leah was a teacher, she danced for years, she even received a full scholarship to the University of Hartford to study Ballet Pedagogy. However, while in school, Leah re-injured a tibia stress fracture several times, until a doctor told her she could no longer dance.
Leah turned this bad news into an amazing way to help her community by teaching and inspiring young ladies learn to dance.
It's not just about pointed toes and giggling girls, Leah says that the structure and discipline that is gained while learning new routines and practicing them regularly are life skills that will follow the dancers no matter what career path they end up on.
"Out studio is more of a family," Leah said. "We want everyone to feel welcome."
On July 8, choreographers from the Manhattan Dance Project will be coming to meet the dancers and it will be a chance for them to learn from professionals in their field.
The opportunity for the dancers to lean new techniques and different teaching styles is important, Leah said. She wants to expose them to all kinds of dance and having dancers come from MDP will give the girls a new experience and perspective.