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The Gift of Giving

" Dance is for everybody. I believe that the dance came from the people and that it should always be delivered back to the people"

-Alvin Ailey

Looking at my email this week, I saw an email from one of my Raise The Barre student's parents, and then another, and another. Last Friday was my first benefit concert for my platform. I raised $1,635 through local businesses donating and ticket sales, allowing me the honor of awarding seven full tuition dance scholarships.

The night of the concert, I got many hugs and thank you's; however, what came next was completely unexpected. Fighting back tears of joy, I read through many heartwarming emails from parents of the students I have been teaching dance. From both parents whose child did receive a dance scholarship, and even parents whose child didn't but still had the kindest words.

"Michaelene, Thank you! I'm sitting in the audience fighting back tears. 'She' had so much fun! You know she wasn't supposed to beat the odds and ever walk again. To watch her dance onstage is pretty special. Thank you for encouraging kids to Raise The Barre and for putting on these workshops. You are building confidence, acceptance and love in others. I'm sure we will be finding a dance class for 'her,' because of your kindness."
"Michaelene, We cannot thank you enough for the scholarship you awarded our youngest! We feel incredibly blessed that you awarded 'her' the scholarship, because now she will be able to participate in dance, just like her big sister. We know she will absolutely love dance and can't wait to see how much fun she has! We cannot thank you enough for your generosity!"
"Michaelene, Thank you so much again for the scholarship you awarded our child! I am so glad yesterday was such a success!!

Giving back has always been a important part of who I am. It's one of the many things I learned through dance. From a very young age, my dance studio would select dance

classes to go to the local nursing home and perform for the patients. After dancing, we would sit and visit with the patients, asking them how they enjoyed the dances and talk about our upcoming recital, or why we love to dance. It was important for my studio to show their students how much dance can impact an audience. That is what I love most about dance!

Moving to New York and beginning to dance professionally, I saw a side to dance companies I didn't know existed. Many dance companies dedicate time to community outreach. Many companies even go to elementary schools to teach dance to students who likely have never taken a class before and perform for them.

My mission with Raise The Barre is to enable equal access to professional dance education, so all students will have an equal opportunity to raise their own bar and meet their fullest potential through the art of dance. I accomplish this by teaching at schools, producing and directing benefit concerts to raise money, awarding the students I teach with scholarships to continue their dance education at a local studio, taking my students to nursing homes to perform for the patients, and taking my students to see professional dance performances. A full circle dance experience!

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