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Member Highlight: Mirador Resident Reflects on Professional Ballet Career

Thursday, December 14, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Dorothy Taylor
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The holiday season is one filled with wonder, from the flickering of lights on a tree to the smell of seasonal treats filling the room, miracles and joy fill the air as families and friends gather. The enchantment of the season is captured yearly in The Nutcracker ballet, a tale filled with magic, hope and love in a land of fairies. The Nutcracker is a story which has captivated audiences for generations and inspires children around the world to become ballerinas. For Mirador resident Luwanna Isenogle, that dream was one that came true, and during the holiday season she often reflects on her career as a professional dance teacher and a dancer in the Chicago Opera Ballet.

At the age of eight, Isenogle began performing classical ballet under the tutelage of Martha Miller, spending her weekends in Chicago at the Ruth Page Studio strengthening her body to achieve the fluidity and grace required to perform on stage. She even remembers her first Nutcracker performance fondly, as she took to the stage as a deer when she was a little girl. Later, she would go on to spend three seasons performing with the Chicago Opera Ballet, exposing her to the knowledge and understanding she would need to follow her passion to teach and inspire future generations of dancers. After hanging up her own pointe shoes Isenogle opened her own studio, Ballet Arts of Auburn, where she taught classical ballet to over 200 students, including her own daughter.

“There wasn’t a role in the entirety of my career that I enjoyed more than that of teacher,” said Isenogle. “Having danced professionally and spent time in a company, I know firsthand what it takes to make it as a professional dancer and wanted nothing more than to share that knowledge. As a teacher, I witnessed many of my students go on to do remarkable things with their own careers, including two who went on to perform for The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. It’s incredibly rewarding to look back and see how I was able to help my students hone their talents and enjoy amazing careers in the process, and as a teacher there’s not much more to ask for.”

It’s safe to say that ballet wasn’t just a career choice for Isenogle, but a deep passion which brought joy to her life. Today, she reflects on those memories with a smile, showing pictures from her performances and even displaying a pair of carefully preserved pointe shoes. It’s this love for dance that Mirador recently experienced along with Isenogle when the Corpus Christi Concert Ballet stopped by to perform The Nutcracker for residents.

“Anytime I’m able to watch a dancer to perform, I can feel the movements in my bones, reminding me of my own performances,” said Isenogle. “So many people don’t understand the work and strength it takes to dance, especially classical ballet, and when you see a dancer perform you realize how solid one must be for it to look so effortless. It was delightful to be able to see the young performers and see how proud they were of the production, and I’m honored to have been able to see it for myself.”

Source: Sarah Jackson / Amy Jones, The Point Group
Photos Courtesy of Mirador:
Photo 1: Luwanna Isenogle
Photo 2: Luwanna Isenogle with Corpus Christi Concert Ballet

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