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The day I met Leslie Arthur, I was entering a brand new dance studio in Roanoke Virginia after dancing at the same studio for 11 years. I was deep into my eating disorder at the time, I was scared, I was nervous, I felt out of place to the extreme. That day I didn’t realize I was meeting one of the most instrumental people in my acceptance and recovery from my eating disorder.

From my previous dance experiences I had learned the art of competition. I felt pressured to lose weight because I wanted to become one of their “best” dancers. This experience was not the cause of my eating disorder, but it played a part. Eager to please and accomplish and prove to my dance instructors that I was worthy as I internally felt worthless was like pouring gasoline on a burning house instead of water.

I walked into Valley Dance Productions and became one of Leslie’s students as my life and my body were burning to the ground.

Before she she knew what was going on with me internally I observed the studio environment and how she treated her students carefully. For at the time I was preparing to determine how best I could morph myself into what she wanted from her dancers.

I quickly learned she did things differently.

At first, it was hard to watch her treat all of her students with love, respect, kindness and attention regardless of ability or financial background, or weight. Because that style of working with students was foreign to me. I struggled with the ideas of how I could get her to like me if she liked everyone just the same. Better yet, how did I know her feelings were genuine?

Leslie was one of the first people in my life to teach me that everyone regardless of external factors is worthy of respect.

Eventually she found out about my eating disorder,  and my struggles with depression and mood. She didn’t hold anything against me – in fact she embraced me, offered a listening ear and support and she never gave up on me (not for a second).

Through working with Leslie at Valley Dance for two years I felt her acceptance (unconditionally), her passion for dance as she invests in every student that walked through her door, and also her incredible capacity to guide and lead her students as an example as to how we should treat each other.

To this day I credit Leslie Arthur for teaching me that everyone and anyone is worthy of respect and love through her actions as dance teacher. She taught me that there is a unique dancer inside of every individual and if inspired and honored and worked with every one can dance beautifully.

To this day five years after my senior dance recital with Valley Dance Productions I stay connected with Leslie, the studio and the girls. There are few places in this world as honest, beautiful, and inspired at Valley Dance Productions in Roanoke Virginia.

Leslie Arthur taught me dance, respect, perseverance and hard work. She also helped save my life.

Today I Stand for Valley Dance Productions in Roanoke Virginia.

Visit their website here: Valley Dance Productions