Abigail Lessaris’ passion for dancing can be seen on the stage and in the classroom, where she teaches aspiring ballet dancers.
A professional dancer, Lessaris, 20, traces her career back to being a student at Stage 1 Dance Academy in Greenwood.
“I remember my mom taking me to my first recital when I was 3,” said the 2014 graduate of Center Grove High School.
She was so passionate about dancing in high school that she spent half of her days as a junior and senior interning at Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre in Carmel, where she is now a member of the dance troupe.
Her rigid schedule resulted in attending only one football game during high school. “I had to make some choices, but that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
“My parents made sacrifices but shielded some of them from me. My stepdad accepted a job in Tennessee because he could make better money there. I know that my dancing was a big expense for them. But my parents (Dave and Tomi Lessaris and Greg and Julie Turley) have always supported me. Likewise, all six of my siblings. All of us kids have been able to pursue our passions.”
Lessaris joined the theater in 2006 and earned a role in “The Nutcracker.” She was a member of G2, the theater’s preprofessional academy, for six years before graduating in the spring 2014.
She is rehearsing for “The Violin Under the Bed,” which is a tribute to the late mother of the theater’s artistic director, Gregory Hancock, who addressed his new work in a news releases:
“When my mother (Florence) was a child she cleaned houses to make money to help support her family. She was one of eight children from a poor family in Kansas. She dreamed of dancing and playing violin. At one home where she cleaned, the lady of the house played the violin and kept it under the bed. My mother would pull the case out, open it and imagine that she was playing the violin, but she never touched it. Many years later I gave her a violin for Christmas. She never played it, but that did not matter.”
In this production Lessaris plays the spirit of Florence at different stages of her life. “I’m so excited to dance this role,” she said. “I had a special relationship with Gregory’s mom. This is special for me.”
Lessaris has been introduced to the behind-the-scenes work on productions. “I help with the theater’s youth productions. I have learned a lot from Gregory. He is very talented.”
“It is quite a challenge to dance in such a personal piece," Hancock said. “But I believe that Abbie will present an unforgettable performance in ‘The Violin Under the Bed.’
“She has become an invaluable member to the company. In addition to being gifted as a dancer, she is kind, generous, compassionate and passionate about dance. She possesses the rare gift of artistry at an early age. I look forward to continuing to develop Abbie as a dancer and an artist.”
Her days at the studio can be long as she rehearses from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays before conducting classes. “Mondays through Wednesdays are 12-hour days. Thursdays and Fridays are a little shorter.”
Lessaris attributes her success to hard work, a passion for dancing and natural talent, “But I owe a lot to the people who brought me up in the dance world.”