Celebrate Mother’s Day with Pinellas Studio of Dance and City Dancers, where mother-daughter duo, Lisa and Larissa Walker, have been sharing their passion for dance and building a strong bond through the art form. In this interview, Lisa and Larissa share their experience of being a mother and daughter in dance and how it has impacted their relationship.
Lisa and Larissa’s relationship is closer than ever, thanks to their shared love for dance. Larissa started dancing before her third birthday and went pre-professional at seven years old at the studio they now own. Lisa has been behind the scenes as a costumer, prop person, kiddie wrangler, studio owner, or simply Larissa’s mom for 25 years. They have shared many special moments at the studio, from Larissa’s first solo to her first Pas de Deux.
Larissa admits that she used to be a backstage diva, but over time, her relationship with her mom has evolved. One of her favorite memories was when they put in a new floor at the studio last year. Her whole family came to help during the three-day process, and they listened to music and just got it done together. Having the studio together definitely gets hard sometimes, and they argue occasionally, but overall it makes them closer. It’s really their common ground.
Dance has been Larissa’s passion from a very young age, and Lisa has always helped her children pursue their passions. Lisa does not see herself as having an identity other than being a mom and dance studio owner. Personally, it can get misconstrued at times for Larissa, but watching her mom take on the challenge of being a studio owner has motivated her to do the same.
Lisa and Larissa support each other daily. Even though Larissa is married and doesn’t live at home, they talk every day about everything from business to personal matters. They hold each other accountable, and Lisa sees Larissa taking her place as studio co-owner and running all things for the studio in the future.
Working with your mom isn’t always easy, as Larissa admits, but they always come back to who they have always been. Sometimes they have to set boundaries and say, “right now I need you to just be my mom” or “just be my employer”. It gets tricky to navigate sometimes, but it has definitely taught Larissa a lot about how to communicate with people effectively.
Lisa appreciates having her daughter as her equal at the studio. They collaborate and run costumes, music, and all ideas with each other. Larissa appreciates how present they are in each other’s lives. They have a lot of respect for each other, and that really helps them continue to grow, learn, and adapt. They are constantly at the drawing board about improving what they do, which is really special to Larissa.
Lisa, who has been a part of Pinellas Studio of Dance for 25 years, became the proud co-owner with Wendy Selleck in 2016 when the former owner decided to retire. Lisa manages the business, and Wendy teaches. Larissa, who was studying dance instruction in Massachusetts, came back as an instructor teaching 17 classes a week for the studio. Pinellas Studio of Dance has been an entity for 42 years.
In addition to running Pinellas Studio of Dance with her mom, Lisa, Larissa has also been chosen as a brand ambassador for the NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet in 2022. As a representation of the legacy of family tradition and classical excellence that the NUTCRACKER! production upholds, Larissa is thrilled to be a part of this iconic ballet’s family. Being a brand ambassador means that Larissa will be representing the production in various events, campaigns, and promotions leading up to the show, which she is ecstatic about. As someone who has been dancing since the age of two and has grown up watching and performing in the Nutcracker, it’s a dream come true for her to be chosen as a brand ambassador for this renowned production.
To celebrate Mother’s Day, Pinellas Studio of Dance is holding a contest. Follow Larissa on TikTok and comment to enter. Give the gift of dance to your mom and make memories that will last a lifetime.