We had the good fortune of connecting with Leigh Purtill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leigh, what matters most to you?
One of the most important things we as humans can do is to give to others in some way. For many people, that might mean a financial gift; for others, it’s lending emotional or psychological support in times of need. For me, it’s nurturing others’ natural talents and encouraging them to express themselves creatively. Dance, particularly ballet, has always been an exclusive art form, one that has prevented so many potential students from following their dreams or even bringing dance into their lives. I help dancers step into a light they might never have considered – or even thought was attainable for them. I think my guiding value is fairness and equality for all. Whether it’s equal access to the arts or a level playing field for all to participate, I want my business to reflect the larger world and that world is made up of a diverse and multi-faceted group of people. To that end, I believe that fostering a community that supports and encourages each other multiplies the impact I can have. My dancers, by embodying my personal philosophy, send it out to their own communities far and wide, expanding that positive influence in more areas than simply dance.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
On my tombstone, I think it will say “creator of Zombie Ballet.” This, after over a dozen years in business in Los Angeles, is primarily what I am known for. It’s now a full-length ballet, “Sweet Sorrow, A Zombie Ballet,” which is original and based on a novel I wrote which is a sequel to Romeo & Juliet. In addition to the annual full production, a small segment of it is performed every year at horror conventions and other venues and it even won The Gong Show on ABC-TV in 2017. I have been teaching adults since 2008 and have loved every moment of it. I think the community of dancers I have is what sets my classes apart from others. They truly love and support each other and enjoy being together. That is not something that can be said about a lot of ballet classes! There is no competition among the students or my company members. Los Angeles is not an easy city to be a dancer in, especially a ballet dancer. And teaching adults is very competitive! We have a number of wonderful teachers in this city and we often vie for the same students. But it’s really a personal choice. What I offer is not what others do and vice versa. I think we create the community and classes that we wish we could have for ourselves. I know I certainly have tried to do that! I would love for people to know that I have been where they are: new, intimidated, unsure. That’s why I structure my classes to be welcoming to all. I want you to be successful! I want you to love what I love!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Welcome to LA! One of my very favorite places to visit is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I love the grounds which are right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits where you can see some actual archaeological digs. The museum is so varied in its collections and you can literally spend two or three days there just soaking up all the wonderful art. Also at the museum are 2 great places for a snack or meal: the cafe called C + M and the outdoor restaurant called Ray’s and Stark Bar. Delicious salads and coffees. We would also have to visit the Getty Museum with its beautiful gardens and Greek architecture. The Getty Villa is a lovely setting as well. Griffith Observatory is another spot to see both the stars and the city. Even if you don’t get into the observatory itself, the hike up and around the area affords perfect spots to view the cityscape. At night especially! For a quick bite to eat and a coffee, I would take them to Lavender & Honey in Pasadena. It’s one of my very favorite places to get a delicious and unique coffee. Try the French Lavender Breve. Yum! And try one of their toasts too.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I need to make 2 shoutouts! One is to my dad, John Purtill, who has run his own CPA firm in Connecticut since I was in high school. He has been a tremendous inspiration to me as I formed my own business. He has given me a lot of guidance and encouragement and served as a role model in how to run a business with integrity, generosity, and respect for others. The second is my nonprofit company of dancers. They have always provided me with love and support as we created shows together over the years. Their willingness to try new things and to allow me the room to create on and with them inspires me every day.
Linkedin: Leigh Purtill
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