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It all started 40 years ago with one portable record player, an old area heater, wooden barres and a love for classical ballet. This love was born teaching little girls in black leotards and pink tights to pirouette, twirl and leap. Some 40 years later, from those meek beginnings, Shari True has had a flourishing career and built a legacy of dance.

Just barely out of high school, True presented her first recital in 1980, when she founded her dance business.

“I was so young, determined and brave to open my own studio at such a young age,” says True. “My life’s work has been my passion and love for dance.”

True began near Waverly in her grandmother’s garage while her parents built a new home. The rec room became her first studio. Students’ parents sat in the living room chatting with her Mom, who would often be cooking dinner. Quickly they outgrew the space and moved into the Havelock area. True eventually expanded to two Lincoln locations, one north and a second south.

Today, True owns and operates True Dance and Company at 5445 Red Rock Lane, which is near South 56th Street and Pine Lake Road. She has 270 students ranging in ages from 2-18. The studio is a 6,000-square-foot facility with ample parking, a large waiting area, viewing windows and three large studios.

“I have had the pleasure of teaching generations of children over the years – such fond memories of so many students who have shared this journey,” she says. “Now I am starting to teach their children, and that tradition is truly special. We at True Dance and Company believe each child is valued, and we strive each day to help them grow.”

True also founded and is artistic director of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company (originally Ballet Midwest), which continues to delight audiences annually with the Nutcracker Ballet Suite, now in its 35th season.

Every year for her TDC spring recital, True creates a new children’s ballet for her students, a hallmark at the studio. Her students love dancing in her original ballets such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Pocahontas, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, The Snow Queen, and the Little Mermaid.

True offers a well-rounded program that includes ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, musical theater and contemporary. She offers weekly academy classes for students who want to dance once a week, a classical ballet training program with opportunities to compete at YAGP, high school dance team prep classes, and a “TDC Company” for students who want to compete regionally and nationally.

True’s students have gone on to dance at top university programs, to Broadway, to Le Cirque shows in Las Vegas, to Cruise ships, to Disney, have been accepted into prestigious summer ballet programs across the country, have received many top scholarships and awards in choreography, showmanship and technique, and have won competing both regionally and nationally.

Both True’s daughters work with her. McKenzie, a Nebraska Wesleyan graduate, heads up the children’s dance program and operates a pre-school program called “True Knowledge.” McKaylee, a dance major at the University of Arizona, choreographs for TDC competition teams and teaches in the summer dance program. In addition, True has a talented staff of teachers including Ashley Durst, Alexis Spurgin, Jonathan Moats, Sarah Preston, Betsy Andersen, Gayle Rocz and Kaitlyn Schulenburg.

“We are all a family that shares a passion of dance,” True says. “I love that. It has truly been my life’s work.”

True Dance will hold an open house on Sunday, Aug. 11, from 1 to 3 p.m.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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