MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two women have formed a special relationship that has lasted over twenty years, with the passion they share for dancing at the core of their amazing friendship.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I always wanted to be Maria,” said Celioni Sena. “In school we had projects ‘who do you look up to, what do you be when you grow up?’ It always had to do with MVSA or being a ballerina or a mom and Maria was all of those things.”

Now Calioni is all grown up, and she is also all of those things, thanks to her lifetime mentor and friend Maria Verdeja.

“She was this big 7-year-old and she started class at the bar,” said Maria. “She had a beautiful estetique beauty but teaching just the basics and going through all the positions and learning little by little, she was a dancer.”

Celioni then joined the Maria Verdeja Dance Company and became a dancer teacher at the school, even teaching Maria’s daughter. She later when on to be the director of one of Maria’s dance studios.

Now a wife and mother of three, Celioni  says none of her dreams would have been a reality if it weren’t for the woman who not only guided her professionally, but also personally.

“It was always a matter of asking her a lot of questions as to how to teach this in a class, and as I got older, about life, about my husband, wedding and now being a mom I always ask her ‘Maria, how would you handle this with your three kids’ because now I have three kids myself and it’s hard to juggle your home life, your family life and your work life,” said Celioni. “She’s always been able to guide me during certain times in my life.”

Now after all these years, their special bond has come full circle.

Maria is now also teaching Celioni’s daughter, but not only does Celioni continue to look up to Maria for advice and guidance, Maria now relies on that 7-year-old ballerina that walked into her studio 30 years ago, full of dreams and with a passion for dance.

“Knowing that I have a Celioni by my side, where at this point in my life we look at each other and know what we’re thinking, sometimes she beats me to the punch line,” said Maria. “Just seeing her grow throughout the years and our own relationship changing and her showing me how much love she has for the studio or for dancing and what she has done her whole life that she continues it with her daughter, it’s a gift, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Marybel Rodriguez

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