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Your Neighbor: True color: Aimee Crepeau’s passion led her to become dancer, makeup artist

Since Aimee Crepeau’s parents were in the Air Force, they always taught her that in order to rise to the top in life, one had to aim high and work for what you want. Aimee has used this motto her entire life. While she moved around a lot as a kid, her parents finally settled in the mountains of Asheville when Aimee was in high school. But no matter where Aimee lived, one passion always remained a constant — dancing.

“I found my sport really early on,” says Aimee. She started dancing at three. “I liked what I could accomplish. I was really into classical ballet. I could work hard, see results, and get better. There was a lot of positive reinforcement early on. I thrive on challenge and getting that reward.” In high school, it was no different. Aimee landed an esteemed position as an apprentice her freshman year.

During the summers, Aimee would study dance at the North Carolina School of the Arts. “It is one of the best schools in the world.” The first summer Aimee was there, she auditioned for the end of year show but did not win a spot. The next day at class, Aimee did not sulk, nor did she have a bad attitude. She worked harder in that class than perhaps any other. As a result, at the end of the class, the teacher came up to Aimee and said there was an open part and Aimee was who they wanted.

For college, Aimee knew she wanted to be at the University of Cincinnati because the Cincinnati Ballet practiced at campus. Therefore, she could be at school and in a professional company. She had been accepted to School of the Arts and College of Julliard, but it was Cincinnati where Aimee pursued her dreams to become a professional dancer. However, her dreams were hindered when she injured her knee. She had orthoscopic surgery and quickly realized she could not pursue classical ballet. It was too hard on the joints. So she picked up modern and lyrical dancing.

After only two years of college, Aimee packed up her dorm room and moved to New York. Dancers have a small window of time where they can perform at a professional level and Aimee did not want to miss her opportunity. She lived with a Rockette who fulfilled the requirement of being 5’10”. “I’m only 5’3” so I was realistic about my goals and knew I couldn’t be a Rockette. Plus, they do tap and I did modern dance,” says Aimee. “My parents were absolutely OK with me moving to New York because they knew this was my dream to be a professional dancer. I had never wavered on that ever since I was little.”

Sometimes, though, life takes one in another direction and this was what was happening to Aimee. At first, to pay her bills, Aimee took side jobs being an assistant on photo shoots getting coffee, extra T-shirts for the models, etc. She also tried to hang around the makeup artists because Aimee loved to do makeup. “I had learned to do theatre makeup because it was a part of my major. I was always super passionate about it because I always struggled with my skin. I would sit with makeup artists when I could. Then, I met a photographer who was looking for a makeup artist to work all the time but for cheap.” Aimee was hired. The photographer sent Aimee to school to learn more and had on-the-job training. Soon Aimee was spending more time doing makeup and less time going to dance auditions.

After about six months, Aimee had new goals. She wanted to do makeup for famous runway models at Fashion Week at Bryant Park in New York. To pursue her new dream, Aimee applied for a job with Bobbi Brown. Bobbi not only hired Aimee, but Aimee was one of 12 women Bobbi selected to train and travel with. “So we would do all kinds of in-store appearances, regional TV and trends for the season. It was a grind.” Aimee moved to Winston-Salem, because Bobbi asked for Aimee to be based here to open up Bobbi Brown at Belk. However, her schedule did not let up. Aimee would take two or three flights a day with the other women who traveled with Bobbi. But Aimee was loving every second of it. “It’s beautiful to work with hundreds of women a day because you are able to hone your skills and know what makeup matches which skin tone. During 9/11, I was in New York and it was an honor because it was a reprieve for women to come and escape what was going on with the Twin Towers.”

Aimee was also asked to work Fashion Week at Bryant Park and at the Oscars in L.A. Her goals were achieved. However, Aimee says she was most star struck with one person who came to Winston-Salem and needed help with makeup. “I happened to be in Winston with my travel schedule and I got a call that Oprah was in town doing something with Maya Angelou. Oprah needed makeup. She was the nicest person ever and was open to all of my suggestions. That was the best celebrity moment.”

All the celebrities in the world could not convince Aimee to pass on her next dream. She wanted to have a baby and a family. So at 43, Aimee had her daughter, Tallulah, with boyfriend Chris Almand. Aimee says this eventually led her to create something of her own — Aimee Crepeau Makeup. “What Tallulah gave me was the courage to start Aimee Crepeau Makeup. I feel so lucky I took that leap of faith. It’s a modern, high-level artistry, super skilled, the most beautiful enhancement of you. Completely complimentary to your skin tone and eye color. We know what the needs are based on the event and we make people feel great.”

Does that mean Aimee has left dance behind completely? Not exactly. She teaches Pure Barre classes and instructs others how to reshape their bodies through music and dance. She also teaches a dance class for special-needs adults since her brother is special needs. “He is amazing. He is very high functioning but he makes you appreciate what you have.”

If there is one takeaway our neighbor has had in her life, she says it is to never give up. “A small percentage of artists ever make it. But you just can’t give up. You will get the skill level you need to get to the top. What has always been taught to me is to follow your passion and give a little more to get there. Keep going. Keep striving. Keep learning. You can always grow. My mom and dad taught me that. They always told us we can do or be anything, but we had to know what it is, to find out what it takes and be willing to commit to it and do it.” Perhaps it is safe to say our neighbor not only aimed high but soared.