Riverside dancer’s tenacity pays off in a big way

Riverside dancer’s tenacity pays off in a big way
Ida Uffleman, Morgan Murwain, Mssr. Soloman Srulevich formerly of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Pam Litz and Melissa Cooper performing at St. Catherine Labouré Manor

At 18, Pamela Litz has a world of opportunities before her, but the journey has not always been easy for the young dancer and scholar.

While a student at LaVilla, her parents divorced when she was 14. Litz’ normally cheerful demeanor changed and her academic studies suffered. The one constant in her life was her passion for dance, and it helped her get through that tough time.

Pamela Litz as a young dancer

Pamela Litz as a young dancer

“Dance helped me with everything,” said Litz, of Riverside. “It has been a constant in my life. When I come to the studio I can escape. When performing, there are so many different roles to play that it takes your mind off everything else in your life.”

Tip-toeing in her mother Wanda Litz’s pointe-shoe-clad footsteps, Litz toddled into Baggs Studio of Ballet at age two and grew into an accomplished dancer who recently graduated from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Litz’ high school schedule was an exhausting around-the-clock commitment to studying, dance classes at school, technique and pas de deux classes in the evening at Baggs Studio of Ballet. Add to that routine performances and rehearsals with DA and the Jacksonville Concert Ballet Company (JCBC) under direction of Debra Peters Rankin, as well as auditions and performances in the Jacksonville Community Nutcracker every year since she was nine years old.

Her vigorous training regime helped improve her level of commitment to academic excellence, and it paid off in a big way. Litz graduated from DA with all As and one B her senior year, had the highest GPA in Advanced Placement U.S. Government, and was named most improved dancer two years in a row, as well as Model Dance Student.

Litz received a $1,000 scholarship from Community Nutcracker Ballet and a $100,000 scholarship to continue her academic and dance studies at Jacksonville University this fall.

Auditioning for JU was a challenge. Litz missed her first audition due to a broken foot. She was given another opportunity three weeks later, but dancing in pointe shoes with a broken foot still hindered her performance and she didn’t make the cut.

Letters of support from her dance instructors and a review of her accomplishments finally won Litz a place in the esteemed JU dance program. Litz’s parents have always been supportive of her dance, driving her to class and rehearsals, and are excited about the scholarship.

Litz has danced lead roles in numerous ballets with the Jacksonville Concert Ballet Company, playing everything from a femme fatale to Peter Pan. A favorite was partnering with Dr. George Trotter in the Red Riding Hood and Wolf pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty ballet, which had also been performed by her mother in previous years.

Rising in the ranks of Community Nutcracker Ballet, Litz has performed as a mouse, bon bon, sprite, party girl, Spanish, snow, Mirliton and Chinese. “Spanish is my favorite (role). You get to be so sassy!” said Litz. “You can never dance too big. It is powerful, and I love the costumes.”

While at JCBC, Litz had the opportunity to perform at various retirement homes, such as St. Catherine Labouré Manor in Riverside. “When I was younger I didn’t understand, but now I see that we may be the brightest part of someone’s day. It was fun to have a former professional like Mssr. Soloman Srulevich in the audience at St. Vincent’s.”

After graduation from JU Litz said she hopes to find some way to make her living from dance. “It would be fun to be a professional, and I want to dance as long as I can, but I’m more interested in teaching and choreographing. I choreographed my own solo at DA last year, and I was really proud of it. My favorites are ballet and contemporary, anything with pointe shoes.”

By Peggy Harrell Jennings
Resident Community News

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