"We did anywhere from four to five shows a day, seven days a week."

portrait of young woman in 1930s

Barbara Atkins Ruhman studied ballet with Edna McRae for 10 years and joined the American Ballet Theater upon graduating from Senn High School. While maintaining a career as a performer and ballet teacher back in Chicago, Barbara also pursued degrees in psychology and social work. She worked as a psychotherapist at the Chicago Academy for the Arts and volunteered with Career Transitions for Dancers.

"Give up so quick? Never!"

"When I was 14, I danced at the Empire Room as a soloist... and I lived at the Palmer House because my folks had moved back to Kenosha."

"So I took the sling off, I did the flip flop, and I passed out."