Guys and Dolls Dance Studio; Jamestown NY 14701; 716-487-0918

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LAURA'S STORY



"Let me entertain you..."  laura  

"I have a story to tell..."

"It is a story about family, love, commitment, talent, passion, and perseverance..."

It is a story about Guys and Dolls Dance Studio, A story about Laura Marie Cimino. This is her story..."Laura's Story."

Laura was destined to be a successful performer and dance studio owner.

Laura's father wanted to call her Maria, after his favorite song "Maria" from West Side Story...but her mother wanted to name her Laura after the jazz song "Laura", which sounded so sweet and musical. Guess who won that one!

Her mother Naomi was an excellent dancer, choreographer, business woman and entrepreneur. Naomi trained and taught at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in her home town of Cleveland, and even met and danced with the dance king himself, Fred Astaire!

Naomi came to Jamestown and founded Prince Dance Studio, which was her maiden name and later she renamed the studio Guys and Dolls Dance Studio which is in its fifty-first year. There has to be something pretty special for a business to be around that long.

Laura's father, Peter Cimino, was an excellent dancer, singer, drummer and jazz pianist, but his main business was that of an old fashioned barber shop. Maybe some of you remember Capri Coiffures?

Laura started performing at the age of two. Her parents divorced when she was 5, but both parents continued to nurture her God given talents.

On weekends Laura and her sister Dina would go with their father to the store and buy records. Each could buy three 45's. When Laura's peers were purchasing Kiss and hard rock music, Laura was purchasing Earth, Wind and Fire, Chicago and Toto. Her tastes were much older.

Her mother taught her Tap, Jazz and Ballet, while her father encouraged Laura's singing and percussion talents.

Her mother handed her the thread at the young age of 13 and Laura officially began teaching at the studio. Laura was very sensitive to anyone thinking that she was handed the thread simply because she was the boss's daughter. So she was compelled to work twice as hard to prove herself.

Although Laura loved to teach and perform, off stage she was very shy, but inquisitive, always listening and learning. In her pre-teen years, she spent many hours alone creating her own choreography in her basement. Laura never went to a single Junior High or Senior High School Dance with her friends. "Can you believe that?!" Instead this shy, brown haired girl with glasses danced and pretended to be a DJ to her pretend basement audience. Her mother would often say.....

"Laura, What are you doing down there?...Dinners ready!"

"I'll be right there mom!."

"Remember one thing honey..."

"What's that?"

"I Love You..."

"I Love You too mom..."

[Laura Begins to dance to the song "Heartbreak Hotel" by the Jackson Five]

"Laura, What are you doing down there?...Dinner's ready!"

"I'll be right there mom. This is the best part!" Laura continues to dance and when finished says,

"I'm coming mom!"

For the first competition at the age of fifteen, Laura's mom purchased for Laura her first pair of contact lenses, which totally revealed her expressive eyes. The competition was New York State's Talented Miss contest. She became a state finalist in Buffalo and then went to Binghamton for the finals. At the finals she placed sixth out of forty-two girls missing the top five slot by only four points! Finalists were judged in the categories of singing, modeling, and dancing. For the competition Laura choreographed her own tap dance and pantomime to the song "Love is Good for Anything That Ails You." by Bernadette Peters off the "Pennies from Heaven", movie soundtrack. Laura truly found her dancing style...

Laura's father was a full blooded Sicilian, who wanted to instill jazz into Laura...

"Hey,... hey Laura, I want you to learn this song by the Jackie Gleason Orchestra called "You're Getting to be a Habit with Me" - he would say.

"Why dad?"

"Oh, because I love jazz Laura, and I want you to learn these songs."

"Okay, but if I learn it you're gonna sit there and you're gonna listen to every word that I sing!"

"Uh, ...no, I don't know. I'm busy right now. I can't."

"No, you're gonna listen, because I'm gonna be a big star one day, on stage and I'm gonna make something out of myself. I'm gonna be somebody!"

"Alright! Just sing will ya!"

"Just sit there and listen to me, please."

The then little Laura begins to sing "You're Getting to be a Habit with me..."

She comes to the end of the song and sings...

"You got me in your crutches!"

"Clutches, clutches!" her father yells.

"Sorry dad!" and she sings it correctly and says...

"How's that dad?"

"Ah, you're just like your mother".

"Well, she is everything that I want to be daddy..."

"Ah, you're alright kid, you know that?"

Laura truly found her voice.

Laura was fourteen when I first met her and I will never forget the first time I heard Laura sing incredibly, the song "Careless Whisper" by George Michael. She never had one singing lesson!.

I had to encourage her and Naomi to not only show Laura's dancing talent, but also show her God given singing talent.

For Laura's next competition, at the age of seventeen, she was at the Cattauragus County Fair where she performed the wonderful song "Careless Whisper" by George Michael.

At the fair she also jazz danced to one of her favorite songs of the 80's, "(What) In the Name of Love" by Naked Eyes.

This was once again her own choreography and she won best dance at the fair for this number. When accepting the award , Laura said "This is just the beginning." The judges were so impressed that day by all of her performances that they had to award her the Best Overall Performance Trophy!

Laura's very last number at the fair was a special one as it was Laura's mothers all time favorite song. Laura jazz danced and played a conga to the Theme from West Side Story! Few know that Laura was a squad leader to an all boy drum line in the Jamestown High School Band. They called her "Little Laura". Their drum line ranked 3rd in the state at the Syracuse Dome in 1986 and they marched in the Macys and Rose bowl parades.

Laura ended this song at the fair by sending a kiss to her mother because, as always, everything she did was in honor to her mother.

Although many people encouraged Laura to try her heaven sent talents outside of Jamestown, Laura was dedicated to her mom and their dance studio. She has always genuinely loved the dance studio and its clientele.

The dance studio's financial success did not come overnight though, both Laura and her mom helped support the studio in its earlier years by doing part time jobs. Laura worked as a coat check girl, and a demo hostess in addition to teaching children and teenagers. In the early 90's Laura added adults to her clientele following in her mothers footsteps. Fourteen years later at the age of twenty-eight, Laura ventures out of Jamestown for her next competition, the National Competition of The Dance Educators of America. Her mother warned her not to compete for fear that Laura would be so disappointed if she lost. But Laura had to prove it before she turned 30. Having pre-qualified in Erie Pa, Laura went on to compete in the finals in New York City, where she took the Gold, and won first place in her division for her own choreographed tap dance performance to the song "Sixty-five Thousand" by Erasure. She received a trophy, a gold medal and ribbon and a dancing scholarship. World renowned tap instructors told Laura that her work was very original and that she danced from the "soul". Laura has often told her students that "Tap dancing is like drumming ....but with your feet!". Unfortunately Laura's mom could not be there to see her take the gold in New York city because Laura's uncle Jimmy was ill and unfortunately he passed away, dying the same day of the competition. Laura told me that she dedicated her performance to her uncle that day.

Later when Laura's mom saw the video she said,

"Laura, I know why you won..."

"Why mom?"

"Because you really love what you do, Laura, and it shows! It really shows..."

"We did it, didn't we mom...?"

"Yeah, We did..."

Sadly, later that year Laura's father died, and five years after his loss, Laura's mom, Naomi, unexpectedly passed away. Just nine days after the 9/11.

Laura was thirty-three when her mother died. There wasn't a day that had gone by that Laura didn't see or talk to her mother in those thirty-three years. Little did Naomi realize that when she gave birth to her daughter, she gave birth to her best friend too.

Laura always wanted to choreograph a dance for her mother, so ironically, the last dance that Laura was working out the choreography for was a song entitled "Fragile" by Sting. This song was later dedicated by Sting for those lost in the 9/11.

Even after the death of her mom, Laura has kept the studio going. Laura has persevered through some very tough emotional times. In addition to her dancing, Laura has written, recorded and produced many songs on cd's (She is still trying to break through in the music business). Although friends still encourage her to seek fame and fortune elsewhere., Laura's words still remain:

"If I had to choose stardom, or my mother, I'd choose my mother".

Laura has truly found her destiny. Laura is living her mother's dream. Her mother's dream is Laura's dream. The dream is Guys and Dolls Dance Studio. Thank You for taking the time to read this story, and thanks to all the patrons of the studio for your years of support of the studio, now in its 55TH year, being a part of history, and making "dreams come true...".

 

"A basement, a record player, and a dream..."

who would have known...:-)


-written by Janice Kunz




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