By Peg Lopata, Contributing Writer
Concord – Susanne Liebich took her first dance class when she was only two years old. After all, what else could a mother do once she saw her baby had climbed out of her crib? At 61, Liebich is still dancing.
As a child, Liebich studied ballet with the Boston Ballet and performed in their annual Nutcracker Ballet.
“This was such an exciting time of my childhood,” she said. “I met some of my dance icons, as well as Arthur Fiedler,” the famed former conductor of the Boston Symphony.
Though a shy child, Liebich found she could express herself on stage.
“I loved performing,” she said.
But being a ballerina wasn’t in the cards. When she was full-grown at 5’7”, she was too tall.
Discipline learned from dance helps make strides in other areas
Later, she went to college, paying for her education and dance classes as a work-study student plus having three part-time jobs. She majored in business finance.
“I wanted to make sure I could pay my own bills after graduation,” said Liebich.
Her working-class background made her practical and hard-working.
“Ballet training informed my sense of discipline,” she said.
Throughout, she continued performing.
After college she worked at a bank during the day and in the evenings attended Boston University to obtain an MBA. While there she met her husband, Karl. Liebich considers getting married and having children the best decisions she’s made in her life.
After she had her two children, she taught dance and choreographed.
“Eventually,” she explained, “I studied and taught somatic movement, Pilates and yoga—all of which created a broader vocabulary of movement for me.”
Teaching as well as learning from her students
About 15 years ago she created a wellness programs for women and girls (GirlPower! Be Who You Are). She is one of the few accredited Dance for Parkinson’s disease instructors in the world. A donation to Liebich by one of her students with Parkinson’s was used to fund free dance and music programming for Dance for Parkinson’s classes at the Steinberg Wellness Center at Emerson Hospital in Concord.
As detailed on the center’s website, Liebich has also “taught classes to at-risk teenage girls who reside at the Metro Youth Services Facility in Dorchester, served as development chair for BalletRox, and volunteered extensively for the Concord Public Schools. Most recently, her classes include instruction in both dance and injury prevention to disabled children, older adults and other special population groups with limited mobility.”
“It can be difficult enough to navigate the world when the body doesn’t respond the way it used to. To not let physical issues prevent one from participating in life, to me, is incredibly inspirational,” Liebich said. “I learn from my students every day and their influence impact the way I live. Teaching my students, feeling their gratitude and love for what I do is really what makes this work so rewarding.”
Though most of her classes are now online, she recently begun teaching an in-person class at a senior living community, Newbury Court in Concord.
“I want to use my gifts to help others as well as continue to live a life of purpose.”