Getting to Know You: Alum Christy Tolbert

If there’s one person who is sure to keep dancing through life, it’s Christy Tolbert.

Christy started dancing when she was four years old. In high school at Half Hollow Hills West, she asked a friend about why she got on a bus every day and learned about LIHSA and asked how she could attend. “I’ll never forget going to LIHSA and auditioning – it was a humbling moment. When we are young, we are subject just to our home dance studios, but at LIHSA you get to meet others who come from different backgrounds and cultures. It’s a time to rise to the occasion or settle with the dust. I’m so glad I attended that school!” Christy shared.

She credits her teachers with really instilling a foundation of dance and technical training. “My first year at LIHSA, I took dance terminology.  Hortey (Loeb) was a no nonsense, no excuses, person. She would say, ‘It’s not for me, it’s for you.’ Back then, I didn’t understand. Now, looking back, I understand. She was teaching lessons for dance and lessons for life.” Christy further credits teachers such as Shirlene Blake, Joe Istre and Janice Aguilera for helping to mold her into the dancer she’s become.

Christy graduated in 1998 and has been on a dual career track ever since. Her “day job” is as Senior VP of Underwriting at The Hartford Insurance Group.  She also continues to play a significant role in the dance world as the head coach for the NY Liberty Timeless Torches and Long Island Nets Kids Dance Teams. She further leads and dances for the Dance Ministry at her church at the Christian Cultural Center.

Those are a lot of balls to keep in the air, but Christy feels blessed to have such a full and fulfilling life and juggles all these responsibilities every day with grace and flexibility.

She recalls her early lessons at LIHSA, “Back then I’d take in tools and resources. Now I can pour out the same lessons, the same knowledge, tools, and resources to my dance students to be productive citizens.”

In this special year – LIHSA’s 50th anniversary year – Christy is honored to be part of the school’s history. Among her favorite memories from her time at LIHSA are end of year recital times and the amazing relationships developed during her time. She loved having the opportunity to tell stories through dance and show culminating work. “Recital times were always the best times. We’d have butterflies, but we’d put our all on the stage, allowing people to see the visual work of art we put together.

Christy offers advice for current students, “Never ever, ever give up.  Whatever you want to do – allow your imagination to run wild. What I imagined for myself, I’m currently living out and truly blessed for these opportunities that I prayed for.”

Keep living, dancing, and sharing your gift, Christy!