Dancer making her dreams come true

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Amber Alonzo last made Review headlines was when she was 9 and co-starred with Macauley Culkin in Home Alone 2. "Co-star" may be too strong a word, as her face only flashed across the screen for a millisecond. Amber's movie career might have stalled, but her other lifelong dream - owning a dance studio - is about to come true.

The 25-year-old is opening Expression Dance Studio in downtown Westmont on Aug. 2. Amber didn't want to compete with Panda and the other local dance studios where she performed as a young girl.

Amber kicked off her dance career at the age of 2, attending Creative Movement classes at the park district. She continued until the ripe age of 6, when she started professional lessons.

When she wasn't tapping or jazzing, Amber was a typical tomboy playing softball and soccer at the park. In her teens, she worked there as a lifeguard and park ranger. She was also a camp counselor, as Amber loves working with kids.

At 15, she taught dance at a local studio. Amber's teaching methods reflect her personality. She's fun, energetic and above all, interactive.

Tap dancing is her forte but Amber also excels at hip-hop and jazz. She became a full-time teacher at studios in the western suburbs and developed a following among her students. She's also a choreographer and can't believe she gets paid to make up dances - something she did for fun as a kid.

Expression Dance Studio will be offering typical classes like ballet, as well as creative movement for little ones, adult classes and courses for dancers with disabilities. The studio will host birthday parties and sell dance apparel. Amber intends to keep prices and fees affordable in these challenging times.

The name for the studio came from her belief that dancing is about expressing yourself. She sees dance as an amazing outlet for the soul. It also helps students with their posture, flexibility and stamina. New students will be able to express themselves immediately by decorating the studio's wall with their signed handprint.

Amber couldn't have undertaken this enterprise without the support of her family. They helped renovate the former golf shop into a space with mirrored walls, shock absorbent floors and a dynamite sound system.

When they aren't helping Amber, the Alonzos are deeply involved in Forest Park. Jamie works at the middle school and pool. Sam is a park commissioner and Sam Jr. also volunteers at the park.

Now, a new community is welcoming Amber. By the way, I'm not prejudiced toward Amber because she gave me that exclusive show biz story back in 1992. No, it's because she worked for me when she was in college. As I recall, that's the last time anyone tap-danced in my office.

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