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Creative Corner: Skating out of the comfort zone

Corbitt teaches choreography with All Skate Foundation

Leann Corbitt has skated her way into challenge, teaching roller skate choreography at the All Skate Foundation.

Corbitt left her career skating at Universal in Florida and headed to Colorado with her partner, Jake Sanabria, who was joining Connor Effron in opening Odyssey Pilot Hours in Erie. While the move was partially motivated by her love for Sanabria, she also sought an opportunity for professional and personal growth. With the All Skate Foundation, Corbitt said she absolutely got what she wished for here.

"Professionally, skating at Universal is very comfy. But the biggest thing that made me go was the fact that I was very comfortable. I knew I wasn't growing from that. So I had to do it. It was so hard. And I got exactly what I asked for: to get very uncomfortable," Corbitt said. "I'm so glad I did because I feel more like me than I ever have."

Corbitt has been jam skating for over 20 years. She lived in Virginia Beach as an adolescent and found inspiration from a woman in her community.

"I got a pair of rollerskates up in Virginia Beach when I was young. There was this one beautiful woman who would come out and just show out on her roller skates. I always wanted to do her moves with her but I didn't know where to start. I was a child. And we did that for a while. And I would go on Fridays and Saturdays. So that was my main moment of self-awareness that I was dancing on skates," Corbitt said.

It wasn't until Corbitt made it to Florida that she realized what she was doing had an official name.

"There was a flyer and it said, 'do you want to learn the coolest tricks and jumps and sick moves?' And I thought, 'Yeah, I want to do that.' So I went to my first jam skate class and it was a whole club. These adults were teaching us and they were so good at what they did, they had so much foundation, they were so smooth, and they were completely inspiring. That's what really fused skating and dancing for me," she said. "It totally changed my life."

Corbitt explored the world of breakdancing and hip-hop dancing for quite some time, leaving skating for a bit. Though she left dance and skating for a while, Corbitt knew she wasn't herself without it.

"Not until this past year did I realize how sacred skating and dancing together is for me therapeutically," Corbitt said.

Finding locations for her classes and events isn't always easy. For now, she teaches at a variety of rinks throughout the state and meets people at parks. She's also begun teaching virtual lessons. She's hoping to add an additional location to that list in November, though hours there may be limited.

"I have a kind of unofficial spot to practice and train in Erie. It's my partner's plane hangar that they have for the business but during the winter is when they can fly. So, during the day, it's open and they set up a sound system and little disco lights," Corbitt said.

Now, she is creating a vision of establishing an organically diverse community of jam skaters. Corbitt wants people to come together to cheer each other on and try new things in a safe, non-competitive space. In the hip-hop world, she said, this type of gathering would be called a cypher.

"I'm really trying to encourage that community growth, not just – everyone shows up to class and then we go – but we show up to class and then we train after together," Corbitt said.

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