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  • Writer's pictureJoe O'Connell

The woman who trained the Ross Sisters

I went down the research rabbit hole this week..

I knew the Ross Sisters ended up in the Tampa area in early 1939. Right before that, when they first left Texas, they ended up in Shreveport, Louisiana. I believe by design.

This is Alma Love. She ran a dance studio there and trained the Ross Sisters. Alma had a lot of tragedy in her life. Her younger brother died at six months. Then her mother died at age 25 when Alma was not quite six years old. Alma helpe

d raise her other brother, then married an older guy at age 15. They had a son she named Robert after her dead brother.

But she'd always wanted to be a dancer. So she started doing it in Shreveport. She briefly attended college the year she got rid of husband number one and married a local attorney. The new husband paid for her to travel and train. They had a daughter she named Gwendolyn Joy.

Alma sunk everything into two things--dance and Gwendolyn. Gwendoyn won a singing contest in Georgia at age 4 and spent the proceeds on 1,500 pieces of candy she gave to crippled children rehabbing at Warm Springs. Alma opened a dance studio.

The Ross Sisters showed up at her dance studio in November 1938 to find Alma in tears.

She and Gwendolyn had moved to Hollywood where Alma trained dancers and honed her own skills. On New Year's Day '38, little Gwendolyn was on roller skates in the front of the house, zipping up and down the sidewalk. Just then the neighbor pulled into his driveway. Gwendolyn slammed into the car door, her head connecting with the door handle. She died.

Alma moved back to Shreveport and reopened her old studio, but she was inconsolable. Then she met the Ross Sisters and they performed for her. She saw her own daughter in them, and her training took the act to the next level of "acro-ballet."

One day in 1944, now married to an oil man, she went to Shreveport's Glenwood Theatre to watch Broadway Rhythm and saw the Ross Sisters in it. She screamed out "I taught them that!"

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