Little did Laurie know that performing Mary Pickford in Broadway choreographer Joe Layton’s the Grand Tour would presage her own entrance into show business after 14 years of classical ballet. Looking back for Laurie, it almost seems a natural progression from the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker to the solo dancer in the Phantom of the Opera.
Before beginning her career at Houston Ballet, she trained at the Giacobbe Academy of Dance in her hometown, New Orleans, as well as at the summer programs of the school of American Ballet Theater and San Francisco Ballet. Once at Houston Ballet she quickly rose to the rank of soloist, performing many of the signature roles of the classical ballet canon. Her turn as the Sugar Plum fairy in the Nutcracker garnered her critical reviews as did her performances of the Crouching Woman in Margo Sappington’s Rodin: Mis en vie. Houston audiences as well as those in Europe and Asia saw her as the Fairy Beauty and Temperament in the Sleeping Beauty in addition to the Pas de Trois in Tchaikovsky’s other masterpiece, Swan Lake.
Paul Taylor, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Peter Wright, and Ben Stevenson were among the wide range of choreographers with whom she worked, appearing in Company B, Gloria, Elite Syncopations and Giselle. She had a special affinity for the works of Balanchine and performed in many of his signature ballets: La Valse, Symphony in C, Theme and Variations, and Concerto Barocco. Having danced in many of the noted contemporary British choreographer, Christopher Bruce’s ballets, her next step into the world of commercial theater and dance almost seemed ordained.
After what would have been considered a long ballet career of 14 years, in 1994 she joined the touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash Broadway hit, the Phantom of the Opera. Touring to over 65 cities with cast, dancers, crew, and musicians, it wasn’t long before her on-stage duties as dancer were expanded. She became the Dance Captain/Swing for the show which put her in charge of the musical staging of the production, working closely with associate choreographer, Denny Berry. She also had to cover all chorus and dancer roles, going on at a moment’s notice when a cast member was absent. Her communication skills coupled with the ability to deal with actors, dancers, and crew members in an effective, efficient manner endeared her to those with whom she worked. Accordingly, she was promoted to the Dance Captain position of the Broadway Company at the Majestic Theater in New York City where she worked closely with the choreographer, Gillian Lynne, and the show’s Tony award-winning director, Hal Prince.
After 18 years with Phantom, she hung up her pointe shoes, only to be called back to assist in the staging of a new production in Hamburg, Germany. Currently she lives in New Orleans in a renovated version of her childhood home with her husband, conductor and pianist Glenn Langdon, and two very independent cats. She teaches at the Giacobbe Academy of Dance and the Schramel Conservatory of Dance, directing their summer intensive ballet program. An avid gardener and voracious reader, she can be found in a hot yoga class when not teaching or serving up a home-cooked meal.
Ballet is more than a profession - it is a way of life.