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Tampa native ready to compete on horseback, dance floor

For the last two months, Allison Beard Luzier has spent nearly every night after work either horsing around or kicking up her heels on the dance floor.

A party girl? Not exactly. Luzier, a Bank of America vice president, divides her limited free time these days between one of her lifelong passions and a new pursuit that's equally challenging.

American saddlebred riding is the lifelong passion. Luzier, who won world and national championships as a teen in the show horse sport, continues to ride that breed in competition. She took her latest, horse, Lime Twisted Gin, into an event at the Florida State Fairgrounds earlier this week.

On Thursday, Luzier culminates her new pursuit on the stage at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center when she competes against nine other area notables in the Spring of Tampa Bay's third annual Celebrity Dancing event with partner Sergey Kopylov.

It has been hard work, but also a blast for the Tampa native.

"Every night, I've either been dancing or riding after work," Luzier said. "I haven't been doing a lot of other things.

"But it has been so much fun. We've been having so much fun dancing together, and we've just been getting ready for March 12."

The most common thread between the two experiences is Luzier's competitive spirit. Her drive keeps her going, but she concedes that dancing has proved to be the more challenging activity. Except for a couple of lessons she took before her wedding to Sarasota lawyer Tom Luzier, she's not a trained ballroom dancer.

"The dresses are so long that sometimes my feet get caught up in them. I'm trying to get used to it, but I'm a little clumsy. Maybe I'll get a little grace out of the whole dancing thing," she said.

To be honest, it takes a high degree of grace and skill to guide a horse through a competition in which it has to display elegance, beauty and athleticism. Luzier fell in love with the sport at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club stables as a child, and continues to ride at a stable in Bradenton.

Rider and horse have to act as one. If there is one similarity between riding and dancing, it's the need for singular movement and thought. The difference is that in dancing, Luzier doesn't get to lead. That task belongs to Kopylov, a former Russian champion.

"We're trying to move together as quickly as we can as a pair," Luzier said. "We're trying to learn each other's styles."

Luzier and the other contestants all deserve applause for stepping up for the Spring, a domestic violence shelter and one of the community's most valued assets. The evening promises to be fun, but think about this: The Spring has restored the desire to dance in some who lost hope and joy.

Go to www.forthespring.com for information and tickets.

That's all I'm saying.

Tampa native ready to compete on horseback, dance floor 03/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 6, 2009 10:04pm]
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