At just age 25, there’s not many things Abigail Holcomb can say she’s been doing for 20 years. But dancing is one of them.
“Uh, yeah,” Holcomb said, almost in amazement when asked and she pauses to think about it. “I started when I was 5 and I'm 25 now so yeah!”
Holcomb started assistant teaching when she was 12 and started regular classes on her own at age 16. Unable to afford her own studio back in those days, Holcomb improvised and used the resources she had.
“There was this place that was basically the equivalent of the Y that had a multi-purpose room. And I was like ‘Hey, why don’t you guys let me teach some classes?’ ” she said with a laugh.
Holcomb has been blessed to know that dancing was what she wanted to do as a vocation since those teenage years.
“I knew exactly what I wanted to do, tt’s not a side job,” she says. “Even when I was little, I was like we are starting small ... I love small beginnings because you get to see how God works in it.”
In 2013 at age 19, Holcomb opened Ballet Adora in a temporary studio at a local church with only eight kids. In 2017 she scored her first permanent location near the Lebanon Square off of West Gay Street.
“I prayed for 50 kids. I felt that’s what God was telling me to pray for. Then we got 50 kids and it just kept growing, way more than we ever expected,” Holcomb said.
Ballet Adora, the dance studio that started out in a borrowed room, now has more than 200 students.
Holcomb uses the word “we” often. That’s because Ballet Adora is a family effort. Abigail is the oldest of seven siblings. Younger sister Lydia is the studio manager, taking care of all the fine details of the business, the biggest of which is coordinating costumes for the 200 youngsters during recital season.
“That’s no small task in itself. And (my brothers) are stagehands. With my dad’s background in construction, the studio would have never happened without him. He built all the walls,” Holcomb said.
Mom Kelly is often at the studio filling in the gaps wherever she’s needed.
“It’s definitely all-hands-on-deck,” she said.
Holcomb said that the ability to own a studio and teach dance for a living is a gift.
“Even when it’s lonely and it gets hard, I get to wake up every morning and pour into these kids. I don’t want to ever take it for granted,” she said.
The word “adora” in the Holcomb studio name means “gift; beloved; adored” in Latin. It reflects Holcomb’s view of ballet and the belief that it can often be a gift from the dancers to God.
“Pouring your heart out on stage is extremely rewarding and worshipping with all your energy is a special way to connect with God,” Holcomb said.