Changing The Lives of Students

Mary Kate’s Story

“When I dance, I really feel confident and able to express myself.” – Mary Kate

Mary Kate started at GCS in Kindergarten. She was very quiet and astonishingly shy. Because of her shyness, in early elementary school, she struggled academically and wasn’t as successful in the classroom as everyone knew she could be. Teachers would ask her questions, but she would be very hesitant, almost afraid, to respond. “I felt that someone was going to laugh at me, or make me feel bad if I answered a question incorrectly. They might say, ‘Oh, she doesn’t know that.’”

It was then discovered that Mary Kate had an identified learning disability, but she happened to always be very capable and very engaged in dance from a very young age. When auditions were held for Alice in Wonderland, it was thought that Alice would be played by an older, more experienced ballet dancer. It was Mary Kate’s first audition and she wanted to be Alice. “But when she saw all of the bigger girls in higher ballet, she said, ‘Oh mom, I think we should go back.’”

Luckily, she persevered and went through with the auditions, floored everyone, and was cast as Alice. “We understood that we were giving a very young girl a huge role and she had never had an experience like this before…but there was something about her, a youth, an innocence, and a very expressive face. To watch someone so young be comfortable with themselves and to respond to what they’re hearing in the music, it’s beautiful.”

And all of a sudden, Mary Kate is front and center and performed with a passion and artistry that couldn’t be ignored.

“When I finished and took a bow, everyone was clapping. It made me emotional, I felt very proud of myself.”

If Mary Kate had not taken dance everyday as a way to express herself, she likely would have not been able to come out of her shell in these undiscovered areas. “We had begun to see that there is a synergy between artistic engagement and academic involvement. In Mary Kate’s case, the fact that she was succeeding so demonstrably in the dance studio began to impact her academically. She was more vocal about expressing her thoughts and ideas. She was more comfortable making mistakes. All of a sudden, she had this sense of self-confidence and achievement that she might not have had if dance had not been a part of her life.

We’re so proud of what Mary Kate accomplished and her story only strengthens our commitment to the vision of everybody dance!

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