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From a New York City Dance Troupe to UC Law…Meet 1L Dolores Lagdameo

 Maria “Dolores” Lagdameo grew up primarily in Cincinnati and graduated from The Ohio State University. This, alone, would not make the first-year College of Law student stand out from many of her peers.

But it’s safe to say that few, if any, law students have carved the same path as Lagdameo, who has both danced professionally and managed a restaurant.

Lagdameo, the youngest of six children, spent most of her childhood in the Queen City, but also lived a couple years in her parents’ native Philippines. After earning a dance degree from OSU, she went on to work for a few New York City choreographers and companies.

She had a “great experience” dancing with the Brooklyn-based Creative Outlet, in particular, which frequently performed in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Lagdameo had the opportunity to tour in Spoleto (Italy) and London as well, while also performing in Atlanta’s National Black Arts Festival in 2007.

Dance remained a part of Lagdameo’s life when she returned to Cincinnati, which included performing a piece by well-known choreographer Ka-Ron Brown Lehman at the Aronoff Center, before starting law school. Lagdameo also taught at the Cincinnati Ballet, Planet Dance, the Contemporary Dance Theater, and the School for Creative & Performing Arts.

“I was brought on at SCPA when MTV did that reality TV show, “Taking the Stage,” ” Lagdameo said, noting that the high school kids in the show were put in her class to learn more modern, hip-hop-like dance trends. “I worked with some L.A. dancers and choreographers, and I did some of the choreography that MTV filmed for the show.”

From Dance to Revitalizing Over-the-Rhine

Aside from dance, Lagdameo also broke into the restaurant industry a few years ago as an assistant manager for the now-popular “OTR” restaurant Lavomatic. Shortly after its opening, Lagdameo took over as its general manager.

Unfortunately, the restaurant opened “in the midst of the well-publicized feud between its owners, Martin Wade and Jean Robert de Cavel,” Lagdameo said. The restaurant “suffered because of the conflict,” she added, but Lagdameo had a positive experience nonetheless.

“For the time that I was there, it was great to be a part of the infant stages of the Gateway Quarter revitalization,” she said. “I had a great crew and the customers were great.”

But Lagdameo said she has “no love left for the restaurant industry,” and her next career move was to apply to law school. Her husband, Christian Dennery, was a 1L at Salmon P. Chase Law School at the time, though he is now a 2L at the College of Law.

“I was inspired by my husband being in law school. And at the same time, I had come to the decision that I had no interest in pursuing dance any further or running restaurants,” Lagdameo said. “Christian was extremely supportive and always believed that I could get into law school and that I would do well. I could not have done it without him.”

Lagdameo is now just a few weeks away from completing her first year at the College of Law, a year that has been both tough and enjoyable.

“Law school is traumatic. The words ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ also come to mind,” she laughed. “There must be something wrong with me because I really love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

The Cincinnati native enjoys oral advocacy and hopes to do Moot Court next year. The business-minded student also intends to enroll in corporations, secured transactions and bankruptcy. Professor Bai’s property class is now making her consider wills and trust as well, Lagdameo said.

While 1L year is certainly demanding, Lagdameo does try to squeeze in some time to enjoy herself.

“My favorite thing used to be going to performances and going out to restaurants,” she said. “Christian and I still try to get out at least once a week or so.”

Aside from stopping by Neon’s or Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine, Lagdameo likes to run a couple times a week, while she would like to find time to do the occasional dance class as well.

“Even though I don’t want to teach or perform anymore, I still love dancing,” Lagdameo said.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13