Country Dancing

From Student to Coach


Brianna Colbert and Dori Yez

In previous articles, I have mentioned my background of teaching ballet, tap, and jazz that started me on my journey as a line dance instructor. Also, during those years, I was introduced to the world of competitive baton twirling through a very young girl, Brianna Colbert, and her mother Missy Leali Colbert. I would like to share my view of Brianna’s progression from student to coach.

We have to begin this story before Brianna was even born, back in my late teens when her mother and I danced at the same studio. Missy was a twirler and took dance lessons to enhance her gracefulness and twirling ability. She came from a wonderful and supportive family who welcomed me in as a part of them; fortunately, they still consider me as a family member to this day.

Years later, when Missy gave birth to her first child, Brianna, it was natural for daughter to follow mother down the path of baton twirling. Missy has her own baton corps, the Twirling Angels, so she was already coaching other twirlers along with her daughter. Missy remembered how much I helped her with dance, so she inquired if Brianna could take lessons from me. I never knew how much that little girl would teach me!

Starting when Brianna was three years old, she took a ballet technique class that I taught at a local gymnastic studio. Then she joined my classes at Dance Center Studios, and I also taught Brianna private ballet lessons to hone her amazing skills with baton routines in the competitive events of fancy strut, show twirl, and rhythmic.

Brianna won many titles over the years and was also feature twirler for her high school. I was honored to continue coaching her and was always impressed that her attitude never wavered; she worked hard to gain her talented skills and maintained a sweet demeanor like she had when I first started teaching her. She also mentored young girls in her mother’s baton corps and coached individuals and teams.

From a very young age, Brianna’s dream was to become the Penn State Blue Sapphire Feature Twirler; unfortunately, she never attained that goal. She didn’t let that stop her from becoming a part of the Penn State Blue Band on the majorette line. I’ll never forget how proud I was when I saw her on the Beaver Stadium field!

Now that Brianna has graduated college and is finding her way in her chosen career, she still coaches with the Twirling Angels. I am in awe of her choreography ability, as well as her undeniable connection with all of her students. Recently I was humbled to get a message from Brianna asking if I would coach at their “baton boot camp” because the girls needed my expertise with their fancy strut routines!

Even though I feel that I am “past my prime” with teaching dance to twirlers, Brianna is always quick to point out to her students that she wouldn’t be the twirler and coach she is had it not been for my guidance over the years. In these days of younger people expecting everything to be handed to them, Brianna remains a breath of fresh air with her work ethic, determination, and compassion.

In all the dance classes Brianna took from me, I recall the only line dance I taught was this one: 


Dori Yez teaches Country Line Dancing at these Ohio SCOPE Centers: Howland on Monday evenings (Seasoned Beginners) and Wednesday evenings (Improver & Intermediate) plus the same level in Cortland on Friday afternoons. Due to room size and attendance, Dori can no longer accept new students in any of her classes. There is a waiting list for a new “novice/beginner” class.

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