|8/12/2014 10:32:00 AM|
Dreams follow passion
Henry woman shares her love of dance at work and in the community
Christine Gaspardo has been dancing most of her life. She and a business partner opened Dance Center and now have 90 students from Henry, Putnam County and the surrounding area. Like her father, Robert Eckert, a music teacher with the Henry-Senachwine school district, Gaspardo dedicates part of her summer to the River Valley Players Youth Theatre. A choreographer, she also co-directed the show “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” with her father this summer. Eckert was featured in Monday’s Encore section.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
HENRY — Not everyone can turn a lifelong passion into a career, but Christine Gaspardo is doing just that.
Having started dance lessons at a young age, Gaspardo knew she wanted to pursue her love of dance after she finished studying recreation and park administration at Illinois State University.
Like her father, Robert Eckert, a music teacher with the Henry-Senachwine school district, Gaspardo dedicates part of her summer to River Valley Players Youth Theatre. A choreographer, she also co-directed the show “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” with her father this summer.
Eckert said he values her input as he would any other colleague while they are working together.
“She has visions of movement on stage. I try to see what she has come up with and I appreciate it,” he said. “What she does adds so much to the show. She brings in a lot of creativity.”
In 2008, the Henry resident, along with her business partner Deanne Crook, took their passion to a new level and opened Dance Central, where they teach tap, tumbling and ballet. The business has been growing steadily each year since opening its doors.
“We had 15 students the first year,” Gaspardo said.
By the second year, that number had doubled to 30. By the third year, it had doubled again, bringing the total to 60 students. For the past two years, there have been 90 students each year enrolled in Dance Central.
“I think that’s pretty amazing for a small town,” Gaspardo said.
Dance Central’s youngest student isn’t even quite 2 years old, and the oldest is 16.
Gaspardo said she believes in having small classes so students will get a lot of individual attention.
Jamie Rediger of Henry has been one of Gaspardo’s dance students for the past few years.
“I am pretty much in love with it,” she said.
Rediger views Gaspardo as a role model.
“Chrissie has always been a big part of my life. She’s such a blessing,” Rediger said. “She has a really big heart.”
But that doesn’t mean Gaspardo is a pushover.
“She expects a lot out of you,” Rediger said.
Gaspardo is surrounded by loved ones when she works on RVP shows — her children are in the production — her husband and her sister help with the sets.
Gaspardo’s daughter, Bella, who had a role in the musical, likes that her mom often works with her on productions.
“It’s special she’s my mom and I’m in the plays she works on,” Bella said.
Shannon Crawley-Serpette can be reached at (309) 364-2268 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @NT_Putnam County.
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