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MSLCE Student Aspires to Run a Dance Studio for People with Special Needs

Lester, Paige headshot

By Miya Williams

Paige Lester started dancing as a toddler when her mom put her into a ballet class and hasn’t stopped since.

Now, she hopes to run a dance studio where she can pass on her love for dancing to people with special needs.

“Whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally or socially, being a teacher in the arts provides opportunity to help aid others with all types of personal development,” she said. 

While in high school, Lester was an assistant teacher at her home studio in Ridgefield Connecticut, Jean Cobelli Dance. She also volunteered at special needs day camps over the summers and had fun putting on plays at home with her older brother who has cerebral palsy.

“Growing up I saw the impact that participation and inclusion in the arts had on his peers, and I want to be able to provide that positive experience for others.”

The Northwestern alum majored in dance and sociology and also obtained a certificate in musical theatre choreography. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she helped facilitate dance education classes in the Chicago community and assisted with the New Movement Project, which put on dance performances on campus. Lester prefers jazz or modern dance herself and ultimately wants to teach both styles.

“I like the performative aspects of jazz and the fact that it can relate to a large variety of people,” she said. “With modern, the expressiveness of it allows for a lot of freedom in performance and choreography.”

Lester hopes to work on the administrative team for a dance company or studio before taking on a larger teaching role. Although she is not sure if she will pursue dance on a professional level herself, she is sure of one thing:

“I definitely want to keep dance in my life.”

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