QUEEN OF ARTS: Shannon Holmes
BY CAROLYN JANNETTI
Shannon Holmes grew up with dance in her blood. With great grandparents coming from Vaudeville and brothers excelling in the field, it was only natural for Shannon to follow suit. She began at the age of two and tapped until nine. As she grew, her experience expanded to the disciplines of ballet, hip hop, acro and contemporary styles.
The long hours spent in the studio were worth every second. She auditioned for Dean College and was accepted into its arts program and dance company where she shined for the next four years.
But then a tragic turn changed Shannon’s life. She was sideswiped by a car while crossing the street and was hospitalized for three months. Most anyone would be discouraged by such a traumatizing experience, both mentally and physically. But Shannon didn’t let it take over her life. Dance was a part of her life and she was going to keep it that way. Her passion now just needed to be channeled in a different direction.
She began to teach dance at various schools in the Central New York area. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the kids.” She loved teaching and being able to give others the opportunities she once had. “With dance,” Shannon explained, “you can show what you feel during the times you cannot say it with words.”
The stars aligned in the winter of 2011 when Shannon’s dream came true and she was able to open her very own studio. Located in Shoppingtown Mall in DeWitt, Shannon owns three different, beautiful studios with floor to ceiling mirrors all in one location. To make this possible, her supportive friends and family came in on their own time to help build everything from scratch. Her husband laid in all the floors and built her a space that previously seemed beyond her grasp.
For teachers to be successful, they always need to keep learning. That’s what Shannon does for her students.
She gives them a place to come have fun and express themselves. But also she teaches them the importance of hard work and pushes them never to settle. “If I give correction, it’s because I see potential.” She helps the girls realize that competition is healthy and that no one should just be handed a part. “I want my girls to come in to work as a team, no jealousy, no attitudes.”
She is the creator, director and producer of Once Upon a Christmas, a fantastic performance opportunity for all dancers through the holiday season. She herself was the Ballet Mistress for “The Nutcracker” during the 2009 and 2010 seasons as she worked alongside Ballet Met and the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra.
She also helped launch the brand new symphony, “Symphoria,” this year with group and solo performances from the Empire State Dancers. John Garland, director of the Syracuse symphony, asked Shannon to do the impossible. In 10 days, Shannon was able to produce 17 minutes of choreography with 45 dancers.
Her students are performing a children’s ballet of “Sleeping Beauty” for the first time ever in the small theatre at the Mulroy Civic Center at 2 and 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 23. It will be a family friendly show!
The company also is in need of corporate sponsors. You can send Shannon an email if interested through the studio website: www.empirestatedancectr.org.