As a child studying at the Lisa Boehm School of Dance in Elgin, Donica Luzwick learned more than dance steps. She learned to have compassion, bringing arts instruction and opportunities to those who thought they couldn’t afford it.
"Lisa grew up poor in Germany, but still had plenty of opportunities to dance," Luzwick says. "Even though hers was a private school, I never saw her go after people for money, so that’s where I got my philosophy."
For Luzwick, arts opportunities should be high-quality, no matter if they occur through park districts or community theater. Over the past five years, she has obtained some amazing results through her classes and Company Allegro dance troupes at the Hanover Park School of Dance, run by the Hanover Park Park District. Luzwick has coordinated a no-nonsense program that includes opportunities for her charges to dance at venues such as Six Flags Great America Dance Fest and the Illinois State Fair.
"When you’re working in the arts, you should provide the best instruction you can," she says.
Company Allegro performances have served as a training ground for Luzwick’s other passion, H.O.T.T. (Helping Others Through Theater) Productions, which stages musicals twice yearly at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts. Luzwick has run the company since 1995 with her husband, David, and sister, Christine Seminaro. A number of Luzwick’s students, some of whom come from financially-stressed families, have tried out for and landed roles in H.O.T.T. musicals.
Clara, Madeleine and Joshua Kiesel have danced with Luzwick at the park district and H.O.T.T. performances. Dad Walter has joined them in the latter.
"She’s always trying to give us the same opportunities she had when she was young," Clara Kiesel says.
H.O.T.T.’s next production, "Guys and Dolls," will be in November. For dates and ticket prices, visit hottproductions.com. Performance proceeds benefit Prevention Initiative, an early childhood educational program in Schaumburg, Palatine and Wheeling townships, designed to break the cycle of poverty.
Hanover Park School of Dance classes begin Sept. 15. For classes and rates, visit hpparks.org or call (630) 837-2468.