Stephanie Briggs: There will be dancing

Beth KinnaneOur Town Neighbors, West Knox County

Ready or not, the holiday season is upon us and with it the requisite cards and social media posts wishing all a “very merry” and “season’s greetings.” On some day in the not-too-distant future, Stephanie Briggs will most likely step into the ballet studio at her lake house, set up her camera, clasp the barre, strike the perfect pose en pointe and capture the picture that tells the world that, yes, she is still dancing.

There is no “former” in this ballerina’s dancing life. While she no longer prances in the footlights, she generally gets about two hours of dance in daily.

Stephanie Briggs when she danced “The Nutcracker” with the Appalachian Ballet Company. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Briggs.

“It’s something I get asked every year, usually around November,” Briggs said. “I’m not on the stage anymore, but I’ve never given it up. So, I set up the camera, keep hitting that position till I get the right shot and put it on a Christmas card.”

She also puts it out on social media, primarily on the Facebook page under the name of her husband, District 7 state Sen. Richard Briggs. No doubt the question comes this time of year as visions of sugarplums start dancing in the heads of followers who’ve at least heard of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker.”

The Facebook page, which she manages, has taken on a life of its own as anything but (for the most part) a place for politics. Created when Richard first ran for state senate in 2014, someone needed to mind it after the campaign was over.

“Honestly, neither one of us really wanted to be on Facebook,” Briggs said. “And he’s a workaholic and REALLY didn’t want to do it. So, I took it over and changed the focus to more human-interest like things. People need to know it’s not Rick, it’s me. I do all the posting. But if there is something he wants to put out, he writes out exactly what he wants. I don’t put words in his mouth.”

Richard and Stephanie Briggs

Currently the most popular subjects are the birds and other wildlife near her Fort Loudoun Lake studio that she photographs almost daily. It all started with her trying to photograph some ospreys across the cove several years ago. And that started a new hobby. On the day of this interview, Briggs was itching to get outside and capture photographs of the fall colors before they’re gone.

“I’m just now starting to buy the equipment to up my game a little,” she said. “I’ve had this place 20 years, and didn’t even know about all the different birds that live around here.”

People often encourage her to publish a collection of her photographs or a children’s book based on her avian friends. She gives them all names. Rodney the blue heron is probably the most famous and named after her painter. While she enjoys learning about her subjects, there’s a few things she wants to make clear.

“I’m not a birder. I’m not a photographer.” Briggs said. “I’m just an observer, sharing what we see in the cove.”

Enjoy this collection of her photos:

To follow along on Facebook, go here.

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for

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