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Getting to know American Beauty Show's Paul Dykstra
by Carrie Maxwell, Windy City Times
2018-04-18

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Later this month, Cosmetologists Chicago will kick off its annual America's Beauty Show for salon professionals. The first, as it was called at the time, Midwest Beauty Trade Show took place in 1924 and now the show has 450 exhibitors, 70,000-plus professional gate admissions, more than 60 classes for continuing education hours and more than 80 classes for product knowledge education.

Led by CEO Paul Dykstra ( who is also a classical pianist ), Cosmetologist Chicago consists of the beauty show and subsidiaries—The International Nail Technicians Association, The American Association for Esthetics, CIDESCO USA and the Certified Nail Professional program.

"Cosmetologists Chicago is a unique organization of salon professionals here in Chicagoland," said Dykstra. "Founded in 1912 by a group of salon owners as the Chicago and Illinois Hairdressers and Wigmakers Association, it today boasts more than 15,000 professional and student members."

Dykstra came to the organization because, as he said, he could type fast because all pianist have coordinated fingers.

"I applied for a job at the time that computer word processing and data processing were becoming the norm," said Dykstra. "I had studied word processing so I had another marketable skill and the rest is history. I interviewed in Nov. 1986, and have been here ever since."

As for this year's beauty show, Dykstra explained that attendees will find a new exhibit hall; more education opportunities; four demonstration theaters on the main floor; fashion from the runways of London brought to the United States by the company label.m; The Beauty Changes Lives gala ( to raise funds for cosmetology school training in all disciplines ); two competitions: The Andis Fabulous Fades and the Major League Barber Crazy Hands Barber; and even domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness training ( required for all salon professionals for 2018 licensure renewal ); among other new additions to the weekend's events.

While Dykstra's journey toward Cosmetologist Chicago was due to the practical skill set he had, his love and passion for the piano and classical music was formed at an early age. Dykstra was raised in a small agricultural community in southeastern South Dakota, where much of his family were independent farmers.

"While there was little cultural exposure, we were fortunate that our school district had music teachers who inspired us with the beauty of music," said Dykstra. "Three exceptional teachers were Larry Lyngstad, instrumental; Ethel Cooper, vocal and Ruth Van Gerpen, piano. At the time I was in high school, another friend and I were accepted to study in Yankton College Conservatory of Music's preparatory program. Our mothers switched weeks and drove us 80 miles for lessons until we could drive ourselves.

"I did not start playing the piano until sixth grade and took to it like I had played my whole life. I had found my 'personal football field.' When I was accepted into the preparatory program, and then later majored in piano performance in undergraduate and graduate school, I knew I had found my cultural and artistic self. Further study at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Austria, confirmed my focus as a pianist on collaborative piano—as a chamber and vocal music specialist."

In addition to his role within Cosmetologists Chicago, Dykstra is also the Symphony Orchestra of Chicago's Lira Ensemble ( America's only full-time professional performance organizations dedicated to the music of Poland ) founder and former conductor. Dykstra's many roles at the Lira Ensemble over the years include conducting the professional female ensemble, developing the full symphonic orchestra and various administrative tasks. These days he focuses exclusively on collaborative piano in the ensemble.

The Lira Ensemble has performed the orchestral and operatic music of Polish composers including Chopin, Moniuszko, Paderewski, Bacewicz, Szymanowski, Ptaszynska and more at Chicago's Symphony Center, Hershey Auditorium in Pittsburgh, the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in suburban Detroit, at SUNY-Buffalo and many other major venues throughout the United States.

In addition to his work with the Lira Ensemble, Dykstra has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Poland, Germany, Austria and West Africa.

Dykstra was also the musical director at Temple Sholom of Chicago for 25 years.

"I was hired when I first moved to Chicago to conduct the professional choir for the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar and quickly became a member," said Dykstra. "One of the nation's largest Reform congregations, the temple has a stellar reputation for outstanding musical performances. It is one of the most cherished musical experiences of my lifetime."

When Dykstra is not working, he can be found spending time with husband Bob Beach ( whom he met in January 2000 and married October 2016 ) attending Broadway in Chicago plays and musicals, traveling to various beaches and across Europe, going on cruises with their friends, cooking and growing herbs in their aerogarden.

"For any salon professionals out there who have not heard of this show, I encourage them to attend," said Dykstra. "We truly bring the world of beauty to our back door every year. Why would any pro skip it."

The show will take place April 28-30 at McCormick Place, and is for salon professionals only. See www.americasbeautyshow.com/ for more information. To register for the show, visit abs2018-attendee.streampoint.com/ .


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