Most little girls dream of being a ballerina, wearing a tutu, and dancing from the heart as if no one is watching. Ballet has been a lifelong passion for me from the moment my mother took me to class. I was blessed to have a mother and father who loved and nourished that dream, along with providing a safe Christian home in which to grow up. I started ballet lessons around age 7, although my serious training began with Haydeé Gutierrez around age 11. By age 13, my teacher was taking me to New York City for training in the summers, and eventually, I was again blessed with a full scholarship to train at the School of American Ballet, the official school of New York City Ballet in New York. I also spent a summer on a scholarship with Boston Ballet.
As the years passed, however, I realized that my future would lie in pursuing academics. At the time, this was devastating, as my true love was dancing, but God had a plan that would unfold over the next 40 years! I first became a Chemical Engineer, worked as an engineer for about 4 years, and then felt the desire to pursue a more service-oriented path, via academia. I went to Des Moines University to obtain my medical degree and then to USF for a residency in Neurology. I have practiced as a Neurologist ever since and continue to do so, to this day. Through this path, however, I never stopped loving ballet and continued to dance in the Tampa Bay Area in various capacities. This included dancing in Ballet Theatre International, appearing as a guest artist for Brandon Ballet and Florida Nature Coast Ballet, Sugar Plum Fairy for the annual Steinbrenner Children’s Christmas show (22 years in a row at this point!), and for my patients, in what I called my “Arts and Educational Events”, spanning 20 years, where I would lecture on a Neurological topic and then provide a ballet performance for the patients with fellow dancers.
About 10 years ago, I met Sarah in a Bible study and she then became my patient. We kept in touch over the years and when Sarah shared with me her vision and mission for The Priceless Journey, I knew God was up to something BIG here! After reading “You Are Priceless”, I was so moved by the words on those pages, I knew something special was happening. I was dancing in the studio one day, alone, and God spoke to me and said, it is time to step out in faith. Yes, step out, but wearing your pointe shoes! From that moment, God arranged every detail to put on our first performance to benefit TPJ in January of 2019, during Human Trafficking Awareness month. Next, with Sarah’s encouragement, we performed for TPJ’s end-of-year celebration in October 2019 to tell the story of human trafficking through dance. God showed up in a big way, exceeding all expectations! This was the inspiration for creating Relevétions, the resident ballet company for TPJ.
This beautiful art has given me the privilege to be in fellowship with incredible men and women, from all walks of life, that at this point in my life, spans generations. As my walk with God has matured, I have dreamed of dancing for a greater purpose, to serve and glorify God.
It is with a humble heart that I will lead this venture as Artistic Director, feeling inadequate, but knowing that I will not be perfect, but that I have a perfect Savior in Jesus to lead the way!
My prayer is that God will continue to use these extraordinary women and men, through the gift of dance, to further His Kingdom and bring hope to the hopeless.
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