A local woman is getting national attention for her work as she's being named humanitarian of the year.
It's an award Erin Lustig didn't even know she'd been nominated for, most likely because she was too busy.
It's in her Lenexa, KS, dance studio where she is most passionate about her profession.
"When I was little I really wanted to be a gymnast and then I started dance because my sister did, and I had this passion all of a sudden for teaching and choreographing," Lustig said.
She channeled that passion for dance while she was in middle school.
"And sometimes I look back and I'm like, ‘I wonder if people thought I was crazy because I was this 14-year-old choreographing these dances and people were paying me to do it," Lustig said.
Thus began a successful career. She opened Starstruck Performing Arts Center dance studio while she was a junior at Shawnee Mission North High School. She continued to teach at her studio during her college career at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.
"I would have an 8 o'clock class and go all the way until 3:30 or 4 p.m. then take the 30-minute hike out here and teach until 10 p.m. It's just what I did. Sometimes I would go home and make costumes for the rest of the night," Lustig said.
Several years ago Lustig founded a nonprofit organization called Seamless Dance Theatre. She said it's her way of giving back to the community.
"Dance has done so much for me in my life and it's shaped who I am, and I wanted to give that to someone else or other people who couldn't pay for it or who didn't realize that was a part of life or an option for them," she said.
It's because of her work with "Seamless" that the National Association of Dance Convention and Competition awarded her their humanitarian of the year award.
One of the projects that Lustig is proud of is the theatre's partnership with domestic violence shelters.
"We give a stretch and relaxation class to the women there and teach them some meditation techniques to help them get their mind off what's going on in their life and get them some personal time," she said.
Lustig's nonprofit also awards dance scholarships and offers classes and programs for special needs students.
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