ORIGINAL SC | Ballerina Regina Willoughby

“Ballet has taught me that perseverance and grit, not giving up, will take you wherever you want to go. And all of those places you go, those relationships that you make and the impact you have on people and that they have on you…that’s really what this life is all about.”

For more than 20 years, Regina Willoughby has danced with Columbia City Ballet, dancing roles such as Arabian, Snow Queen, and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker ballet; Maiden and Lucy in Dracula: Ballet with a Bite; title roles in Cinderella and Romeo & Juliet; and Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.

Her final performance with the company will be as the title role of Cleopatra. Director William Starrett has created many roles on her for his original ballets, including Cleopatra, Mina in Dracula’s Revenge, “Sand Dance” pas de trois and “Daughters of the South” from Off the Wall & Onto the Stage.

Dancing with the company in her last season is a little different this year. Her daughter, Melina, 18, started her own career as a trainee with Columbia City Ballet. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.

“With it being my final season, that I was retiring, we both thought ‘how cool would that be and how rare for a mother and daughter to dance, both as professionals, together in a professional company. So, I think she thought, we just can’t pass this up,” Regina said of the opportunity.

Willoughby is also an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum certified teacher with 18 years teaching experience. Her studio, The Academy of Youth Ballet, is located in Lexington.