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Arts at the Lake: The art of being you

Arts at the Lake: The art of being you

January 16th, 2013 by By John Pylant, Lake Arts Council executive director in News

Editor Note: The Lake Arts Council has continuously delivered local talent and regionally and internationally known performance and artistic professionals to the Lake of the Ozarks stage. Find out what the Lake Arts Council and its many groups have up their sleeves during this column, which will publish every other week in The Lake Today.

I have the privilege of having an office that shares a wall with Dance Stonecrest. Often, passers-by can see me bobbing along with the heavy bass that penetrates into my office. I have grown accustomed to the smiling children and enthusiastic adults that stream to and from the studio.

However, on Tuesday, Elaine rushed into my office proclaiming, "Quick! You've got to see this girl!" The sight that awaited me in Elaine's darkened studio was mesmerizing. A ring of vibrant light swirled around and around, flickering between red, blue, gold and green. It seemed to magically float above the floor as a lithe woman leapt through it, deftly spun around it and danced in magical partnership with mirrored images reflecting off each of the studio's walls.

The music to which the dance was set seemed to fade into the background, leaving only the rhythmic whooshing of the spinning circle and the slapping of bare feet on the wood floor. Too soon, the circle stopped spinning and the dance was over. From the studio emerged a young woman with a glowing hula-hoop slung over her shoulder.

As the audience poured praise over her, she allowed a modest smile and thanked everyone as Elaine introduced her as Shandy Cole, who would be teaching the new Hula Hoop workshop on Wednesdays and Saturdays at Dance Stonecrest. Immediately, I knew I had to introduce the community to this new artist. Shandy and Elaine invite everyone to come to the studio during the workshops to participate or to simply enjoy a fantastic demonstration. But, I am certain that few will be able to resist the allure of converting a childhood toy into a swirling dance partner once the music begins to play.

To learn when the next workshop is scheduled, workshop tuition and participation guidelines, please visit www. or call 573-552-8040.

No matter how many columns I write, radio spots I run, or mixers I attend, each day, someone wanders into my office and says, "Wow! I never knew we had an Arts Council!" These are some of my favorite moment, as I am immediately presented with an opportunity to encourage, educate and assist new friends in embracing their inner artist.

This last week, one especially wonderful moment came when a man wandered in - he had been shopping for a dryer at Sears when he saw our small sign. As it turned out, life had been dealing him a bad hand lately - laid off his job, broken appliance at home, and feeling directionless, as so many of us do at times like that. But, as we spoke, I could see the fire light behind his eyes. He had been a graphic artist in his career, working at a printing press on commercial art. He had never had a chance to pursue his own creativity as his job called upon him to follow specific guidelines in reproducing images for clients. But, quickly he realized that he now had an opportunity - to reclaim his passion for creativity, to hone his skills while looking for a new way to earn a living that embraced his own interests. With a little more spring in his step, he departed the office with a promise to return.

The following day, he returned with a bulging satchel clasped under his arm. Without a word, he pulled several drawings from his case as I stood in awe of this man's talent. Sketches of faces, animals and a train were laid before me. Quietly and full of uncertainty, he asked me, "So, do you think I'm good enough?" Tears welled in his eyes as I told him, that I believe he has amazing talent and would be welcome to participate in any group at the Lake Arts Council and that I would help him sell his creations.

If there is one question that drives me as I attempt to reach as many people as I can, it is "Am I good enough?" That question is the enemy of creativity. Is the man who brought in his drawings "good enough" at drawing to enjoy it? One does not have to be an Olympic swimmer to have fun in the lake. Are his drawings "good enough" to sell to the public? All it takes is one person to be touched by the beauty of a work for it to sell. Would I buy a Picasso? No. But many in the world certainly feel he is "good enough."

Shandy Cole, twirling her Hula Hoop in the dark at Dance Stonecrest - I am certain many have told her that there's no future in dance, especially taking what was once considered a children's toy and making it into a teachable form of dance, expression and exercise.

But, fortunately for us all, Shandy didn't listen. Shandy is Shandy, and the magic of her dance lives within her soul, just as every person who enters my office wanting to know if they are "good enough" has an artist within them needing only a few words of support to gift the world with their creations.

Yes, you are good enough and the world is waiting to watch you dance, hear you sing, and marvel at your creations. My friends and I at the Lake Arts Council are looking forward to taking that journey with you.

To learn more about the Lake Arts Council and the many guilds, clubs and groups we represent, please call us at 573-964-6366 or visit us online at