DANCE INSTRUCTOR ANITA ABBOTT IS SHOWN IN ONE OF HER PERFORMANCES Time Does Not Diminish The Beauty

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DANCE INSTRUCTOR ANITA ABBOTT IS SHOWN IN ONE OF HER PERFORMANCES

Contributed by Robert Latimer Hurst.


Time Does Not Diminish The Beauty, Poise, Elegance Of Her Talent

THE FORMER HAZEL MILES
 AND JOHN SHIPES PERFORM THE TANGO


Two Students Who Became A Permanent Dance Duo


By Robert Latimer Hurst

Much has been said in most communities about the development
of, or the lack of, the arts and those events that promote
culture. It has been brought to my attention by Mrs. John
Shipes that perhaps a former Waycrossan has been overlooked
for her contribution to the arts in this city. She refers the
late choreographer and dance instructor, Anita Abbott. 

    It might be that, for the last few months, many older
residents have viewed the demolition of the what was the late
Ware County Supt. of Schools and Mrs. T.L. Everett's home on
the hill; however, prior to that it was the Waycross Country
Club and Anita Abbott's Dance Studio. And as a dance studio,
it ranked high because it allowed, under its capable dance
mistress, many young people of the town an introduction to the
creative talents, poise and elegance that this discipline
provides. 

    It was a different era then. It was one in which many
youngsters --boys and girls --came home from school to be
ushered off to either piano or dance lessons. Although Miss
Abbott was a pioneer in promoting arts into the schools, the
courses in dance never really caught on here. But that did not
stop those children from attending the studio on the hill
--and, as one student remembers, the lessons did not gear
themselves just to classical dance. "Why, we learned to
jitterbug, too!"

    "Anita Abbott was a dance teacher who brought true culture to
Waycross. She has been an unsung heroine in our local history.
She gave us --and I speak as one of her former students
--enjoyment during those dark days of the Depression," says
Mrs. Shipes, adding that this educator, who was the daughter
of a man who had been a director of Indian Affairs for the
Western states, had gained much experience from travel and
study because of her father.

    From those Roaring Twenties through the Depression on into
World War II and after, Miss Abbott, who would be married
twice, found time not only to instruct dance but also to
prepare performances for many clubs and events that would
entertain when it was necessary for people to be entertained.
Her talent, for example, was featured in the 1924 Ware County
Bicentennial that brought many guests from a distance to view
the celebration, in which dance played a major role.

    Myra Lott, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Miller Lott, is
remembered as one of Miss Abbott's students who continued her
studies and became a professional dancer, tells Mrs. Shipes.
And another student, Doris Lisenby opened her own dance studio
because of her love of dance and the inspiration received from
the teacher.

    Mrs. Shipes, the former Hazel Miles, found great love and
enjoyment during her years as a dance student. She vividly
remembers her mother aiding Miss Abbott as a designer and
seamstress of costumes. "During the Depression, my mother's
talent allowed me to take dance lessons," she smiles.

    It was a long time ago. It was a different time. But there
they were, ready to learn --one, two, three, four --bashful,
awkward, shoulders held back, arms extended, steps too short
or too long at first, "Listen to the music," and they danced.

Copyright 2002 Robert L. Hurst  
All rights reserved!

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