This week’s video is very special to me.
As you may know, I spend much of this summer “in limbo” as they say. We moved out of our home in NJ at the end of June, but we didn’t get out to Minneapolis until mid-August.
Before I knew we’d be moving, I had fortunately had booked a slew of library performances throughout Delaware and southern NJ thinking that it would be a great way to work/do what I love while also getting a chance to visit with family and friends. This turned out to be fortuitous planning…
I have been living about 2 hours away from my family and childhood home for years and years. But that convenience was often taken for granted by me! Knowing that everyone I knew and grew up was just a car ride away, I didn’t always make the effort to see them when in town, figuring I’d get the opportunity again another time. And then…..25 years goes by!
So this summer, with the gift of a extended visit and the knowledge that we’d be moving far away, I took the opportunity to see, spend time with and reconnect with people I hadn’t seen in a long time! One of those was people was my dear friend, and former mentor and teacher, Sonny Leo.
I grew up dancing. Truly. Like, it’s all I did. I spent nearly all of my free time either dancing at home or in class at Anna Marie’s Dance Studio. Dance was, like, my first language and my first love. If you’ve seen me perform live as Miss Nina you may have figured that out! Lol!
Sonny is Anna Marie’s son, and when I was in, oh, about the third grade he officially started teaching classes at the studio. His love an passion for dance and theater, music and singing was enormous and contagious and every day at the studio was exciting – whether we were starting to work on a new show/idea of his, or he was introducing us to choreography he’d learned in New York City, or we were just in weekend rehearsal for whatever we were working on.
He and his mom inspired us to be our best and I got to grow up as a member of the dance company, Dancers Unlimited. As I grew up I not only learned from Sonny, but I eventually got to perform alongside of him. And we enjoyed some some really fun and big opportunities like performing in A Chorus Line, and winning gold medals a the Young American’s National Invitational Dance Competition in California. Here’s a little photo of us when we returned home (can you find me?!):
Sonny was also my first voice teacher and through his support and guidance I developed confidence in my singing abilities. And in these last six years he’s been a big fan of the Miss Nina Weekly Video Show. So…..of course on my extended visit back in Wilmington, DE I absolutely, positively had to ask if Sonny would be a guest on the show – and he said yes!
One afternoon, post-library-performance, I met him at the dance studio and we sat down to sing “Rainbow Connection” from the Muppet Movie, together. This song is one from my childhood, and I’ve always loved the melody and the message – and I knew that Sonny would be able to easily play it on the piano. He does beautifully. So I hope you and your children and/or the children in your life will sing-along with us to this beautiful song. And if you have a moment this week, be sure and take some time to thank those mentors and teachers in your life who have meant so much.
Have a great week and I’ll see you next Tuesday!