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Lori S. Goodman, city schools dance instructor at Western High, dies

Lori S. Goodman, a former auditor whose love of dance led her to become a professional instructor and director of the award-winning Western High School Dance Team, died April 25 from lupus at Sinai Hospital.

The longtime Northwest Baltimore resident was 50.

"Lori was a dynamo when it came to her students and teaching responsibilities," said the Rev. David W. Young, pastor of Oak Street AME Church and a retired Baltimore City Circuit Court judge. "After her death, I visited her home, and neighbors and students were flooding her home. She was a lovely spirit."

The daughter of Meredith McCoy Goodman, a medical examiner's office pathologist, and Bertha Teresa Austin Goodman, a nurse who was director of nursing education for city schools, Lori Shawn Goodman was born in Baltimore and raised near Liberty Heights Avenue and Garrison Boulevard.

Ms. Goodman was a 1984 graduate of Western High School. There she danced as a member of the school's dance team under the direction of Sevelyn White.

Tiara Bastfield, a Western High School graduate, interviewed Ms. Goodman in 2011 for her blog, WAST! In the interview, Ms. Goodman said her passion for dance began as a child.

"My mother told me I was dancing all the time around the house," she said. "A neighbor invited us to her daughter's dance recital ... and I was hooked. I began my first class at the age of 7.

"I think I always knew dance was more than a hobby. After watching my first recital and then taking my first class, I knew dance would forever be a part of my life," she said in the interview.

Ms. Goodman said classic Hollywood movies such as "Oklahoma," "West Side Story," "Sweet Charity," "Fame" and "Top Hat," as well as Broadway shows such as "The Wiz," "Dreamgirls," "A Chorus Line," and "Chicago" were profound influences.

"I've known her for 30-plus years. Lori came to me when she was a teenager and I had DanceBringers of Baltimore. She took my classes and performed with us," said Maria Broom, a noted Baltimore dancer, instructor and actress who had appeared in "The Wire" and "The Corner."

After graduating from Western High, Ms. Goodman began college studies at Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., from which she earned a bachelor's degree in 1988 in business administration.

She returned to Baltimore and worked several years as an auditor for Alexander & Alexander Inc., an insurance company that is now part of AON Corp.

But dance, rather than business, was in her heart. After leaving Alexander & Alexander in 1994, she became an artist in residence at the Eubie Blake Cultural Center in Baltimore, performing in special events at elementary, middle and high schools with such local artists as jazz vocalist Ruby Glover and Maria Broom.

From 1998 to 2000 she taught dance performance, history and dance appreciation at Highlandtown Middle School while working part time as an instructor and choreographer at the Community College of Baltimore County, Dance Baltimore, Arena Players, Flair Dance Studio and Maryland Sings, among other venues.

For the past 23 years, Ms. Goodman choreographed works for presentation in concerts, recitals, musical theater productions and galas.

"Lori was a student at Western when I taught there, and when I retired in 2000 after 35 years ... I recommended her for my position. She loved dance so much," said Ms. White.

"She was a pure joy to her daughter, family and friends, and she excelled at what God gave her to do. She had such a strong spirit," she said. "She'd reach back to me so many times because she wanted my opinion on what she was trying to do, and that was so important to me."

"Sevelyn White is my support system. She gave me advice, encouraged my creativity and gave me constructive criticism," Ms. Goodman said in the 2011 interview with Ms. Bastfield.

Ms. Goodman served as dance team coach at Western for nearly two decades and was full-time dance instructor at the school from 2000 to 2011.

Ms. White said her dance instruction was traditional, but Ms. Goodman's was more contemporary.

"Whenever you saw what she was doing you knew it was going to be a joyful time. She always strove for technical excellence," she said.

"It seems as though she had been dance coach at Western forever and her students loved her so much," said Ms. Broom, a 1966 graduate of Western who had also danced there. A longtime friend, Ms. Broom emceed Ms. Goodwin's annual end-of-year program for the dance team.

"Even though she had lupus for several years, she kept plowing her way through it," said Ms. Broom. "Dancing is grueling and requires such physical energy, but she continued to teach and dance no matter what her body was telling her. She kept her spirits up and the girls charged up."

Her love of musicals greatly influenced Ms. Goodwin's dance team's routines, Ms. Broom said.

"She would also do some message pieces that were inspired by current events. She'd do soul and hip-hop pieces. She'd stay current," she said.

"And her pieces could be intricate — where dancers danced with chair or a hat," Ms. Broom said. "Her choreography was rich, full-bodied and adult-like, and she got those teenage girls to pull it off."

In addition to her work at Western, she worked from 2012 until her death as director of fine arts programming at Booker T. Washington Middle School, and was a dance instructor at City College.

She also taught classes in modern dance, jazz and hip-hop at Flair Studios, Eubie Blake Cultural Arts Center, Dance Baltimore, YWCA and Park School.

In the 2011 interview with Ms. Bastfield, Ms. Goodman said she lived her life through two favorite quotes attributed to famed choreographer Bob Fosse: "Don't dance for the audience; dance for yourself " and "Dance expresses joy better than anything else."

A celebration of Ms. Goodman's life will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Western High School, 4600 Falls Road.

Ms. Goodman is survived by her daughter, Zori Zamani Meredith Patrick, a senior dance major who will graduate this month from the University of Alabama; three sisters, Cheryl Goodman of Towson, Yvonne Hawkins and Mereida Goodman, both of Northwest Baltimore; and her fiance, Derek Brooks of Baltimore. A marriage to Alphonso Joyner ended in divorce.

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