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Women's History Month: Leigha Porter

Reaching for the stars
LEIGHA PORTER
Posted at 4:00 AM, Mar 17, 2023

At a young age, Leigha Porter was given the chance to explore her artistic side.

"I started dancing when I was two years old," Porter said. "I just remember loving it, love being in the studio, love being around my dance friends, and always being in the studio."

It was not until Middle School, and a chance to dance at The Hamilton Center for the Arts, that Porter's passion grew. She started to take the extra-curricular activity seriously; with her parents behind her every step of the way. Leigha danced her way across the U.S. and showcased her talent.

LEIGHA PORTER

I would always come back home upset, because I couldn't get those same experiencing outside of Lafayette inside of Lafayette," Porter said. "That was as driving force for me. It made even more hungry."

Porter took that hunger and ran, not to New York City, LA, or Chicago, but Lafayette, her hometown.

Porter not just a dancer, but a creator.

"Creating movement, access, programs, I think it is a great and unique position to be in," Porter said. "When you see a need you can create something for kids to explore who they are and the talents that they have that they didn't even know."

She opened up Parc Village, a place where kids of all ages could come and explore their artistic side.

LEIGHA PORTER

"I wanted to put something in a community that was easily accessible to everyone," Porter said. "I want people to be introduced to different visual artists, just bringing that realness and culture and truly staying true to who I am. I want to do what I can do for my community."

Porter co-creating The Creole Nutcracker with fellow dancer Jazmyn Jones. Based on the Russian ballet, set in Louisiana with Clarice traveling to festivals across Louisiana.

"I come in here everyday and say, 'thank you, for this opportunity, to come in this space, and to do this work.' I've been doing this for 18 years now and the feeling of gratitude never leaves."

Despite being able to live out these dreams, Porter said it has not been easy. She has to, sometimes, have her creative side take a backseat to running a successful business.

"I want to be the artist, but I have to be the business woman," Porter said. "Sometimes I want to be the business woman and have to remember my 'why.' Since the creation of the conservatory, the struggle has always been there and is still there. I see things as being important, but sometimes people don't see them as being important. I need to stay true to myself as an artist and giving opportunity to a a community to something new; that isn't always easy."

Where Porter is on the dance floor choreographing her next hit or behind the scenes letting the kids take center stage, she said no matter what obstacles stand your way, you can always make your dreams come true.