Lisa Bessolo


The NEA was a generous and positive concept that was much needed at a time when the world was reeling from the horrors of Vietnam. My own story of how the arts have influenced my life would read how much jazz music and dance, specifically, modern jazz dance influenced and changed my life in high school.

I grew up in southern California, my father had been in the army and then worked his way up the ladder in the Human Resources departments of several aerospace companies. I was one of four kids, the middle one, who does tend to get lost or just ignored sometimes. I tried out for dance as a shy freshman who only had a couple close friends at a new high school. I ended up with a troupe of close girlfriends. Our teacher was an amazingly talented woman who taught us to have fun, do our very best and support each other as women.

Our dance team was together for all four years. When we all tried out to be cheerleaders at the end of our sophomore year, five out of nine of us made the team of 10 cheerleaders. We had a blast dancing and performing in front of our high school. That experience helped make me the positive and athletic woman I am today. That and the passing of Title 9 that forced high schools to make funds available to boys sports teams as well as girl sports teams.