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But on the road, LaPointe is virtually incognito. "When I meet other dancers on the competition circuit, they have no idea who I am," she says. "It's only when we have extended conversations with each other that I've learned that one of the dancers is actually a Broadway producer and another might be a professional salesman. I tell them that I'm from a successful family of entrepreneurs and I'm a mother. And that's what I am."
"I had already taken some lessons at the Kansas City Ballet School," LaPointe says. But she traces her recent dance obsession to the unexpected death of her father, in 2010.
"I went through a period of depression, then realized that I needed to focus on myself, find a new path, a different journey," LaPointe says. "I didn't think of dance at the time, but when it all came together, it felt right."
It began to come together the day she drove to the Overland Park studio run by Bar. The French-born former Olympic ice dancer has won a dozen national and international dance championships and was a grand finalist at the 2004 Argentine Tango World Championship. If anyone in town could make a serious dancer out of a socialite — one who at first was seeking lessons just to improve her basic ballroom skills for KC's society calendar — it was Bar.
"After a couple of lessons with Lauren, I told her that if she really worked hard, she might want to compete in a few national competitions," Bar says. "And when she started practicing and rehearsing, she announced she wanted to be a world champion. I'm a really tough coach, so I wasn't going to indulge her. I told her she had to make a serious commitment to that goal. And she really did."
LaPointe started her training with three 90-minute lessons a week. (She now averages six lessons a week.) After 10 weeks, LaPointe entered her first competition, the Nashville Starz Dance Spectacular, last January.
Two months later, LaPointe competed again, this time at the St. Louis Star Ball. She danced 140 heats and received the Newcomer Award as the top bronze-level student.
And she hasn't limited her stage time just to other cities. In July, when the New Century Follies fundraiser played the Folly Theater, LaPointe joined a list of entertainers that included Ron Megee, Daisy Bucket, Damian Blake, Annie Cherry. She and Bar danced a sizzling tango.
"I thought she was great that night," says local actor David Wayne Reed, who was at the event. "It was like watching Dancing with the Stars with this local person who has all this gusto and passion for dancing. She was a star."
"I was making a lot of progress fast," LaPointe says. "But I have one of the best coaches in the United States. He works as hard, or harder, than I do."
"Competitive ballroom dancing," Bar says, "is the only sport on the planet where the coach exercises more than the people he trains."
The world of competitive ballroom dancing isn't easy. LaPointe has rehearsed and competed until her feet are swollen and bleeding. And it's not cheap. There are the dresses, for one thing. The top dancers on the circuit don't buy anything off the rack, instead choosing elaborate gowns custom-stitched by a few big-name couturiers. Chris Stephenson, whose New Jersey–based J'ordy line is the preferred name in terpsichorean haute couture and whose pieces fetch thousands of dollars, now counts LaPointe among his clients.
"This is the only sport I know where you're coifed and dressed to the nines and you're sweating like a professional athlete," LaPointe says. "This isn't about pretty people dancing prettily. It's more like roller derby."