Cindy Mancini was just five years old, when she began studying ballet at a reputable dance school in New Jersey. She continued taking ballet classes up until her late teens when she discovered her love for jazz. In addition to studying dance, Cindy won the state gymnastic championship in New Jersey during her junior year of high school. The following year she went on to win the New jersey state diving championship. Cindy left for the University of Tennessee to pursue her dream of becoming an Olympic diver. However her love of dance overtook her love of diving, and she decided to return to New Jersey to launch her dance career. Her early twenties were spent studying dance at the New Jersey school of Ballet. A talent with a vast potential, Cindy was quickly taken into the professional company of the New Jersey Ballet, where she quickly achieved the reputation for being the most talented jazz dancer in the company. As a result, Cindy performed the lead in every jazz ballet performed by the company. After leaving the New Jersey ballet, Cindy joined a professional jazz company in New York. Shortly after joining the company she was requested to dance in both the United States and European tours of West Side Story. She gratefully accepted and excelled in the musical. After both tours Cindy returned to New Jersey and taught at various dance studios. Upon hearing of her stellar teaching reputation, New Jersey ballet hired her as an instructor. Once a star pupil in the company became a extraordinary teacher. The New Jersey Ballet's school introduced Cindy to the company's associate director, Joe Carow. He was immediately captivated by her dance skills and striking personality. They found love together, an unexpected love story as the best one are. After getting married the couple fostered kids in need of a temporary home because they wanted to share their house, and unconditional love with kids who in some instances would not receive it anywhere else.
At age 46 Cindy got a call asking for she and her husband to drive over ten hours to New York and pick up a child in need of a loving home. Without a second thought the couple rented a car and began the long drive. Initially, they planned to raise the child for six months, and then the circumstances changed. Cindy and Joe would go on to raise this child for twenty years. Cindy was a loving mother who always put the wants and needs of her daughter before her own. She instilled strength and the ability to love deeply and unapologetically into the mind of her daughter. Growing up Cindy was surrounded by servicemen. Her father, uncle, and brother were all personnel in the military. She had a deep respect for any person willing to fight for what they believed in. Cindy knew of the hardships men faced as they traded their familiar lifestyles for the battlefield. Cindy wanted to shine a light on the many outcomes of war and how everyone was effected. She highlighted the strength of the women and children that were left to adjust and adapt in a world were they were in control. An Extra Penny is a musical that will stand the test of time, history has repeated itself and the show is more relevant now than ever. Dancer, choreographer, teacher, entrepreneur, writer, director, and wife were just a few titles Cindy had, but to me, she was first and foremost my mother, and a great one at that. ~ Bryana Gabrial