As the weather becomes colder and we kick off the holiday season, the idea of thankfulness is on our minds. At the Dance and Music Academy, we are grateful to have a voice in our communities, and for the opportunity to create change through our art. Yet most importantly, we give thanks for the students, teachers and parents in our DMA community, and for the passion they’ve shown us every day this season.
The genuine dedication that has been given this season by our dancers and staff motivates each of us to keep moving forward. We have made great advancement on two of the three major community projects we plan to promote in this “Year of Service”. We have united with dance companies around the Chicago dance community and built relationships through our performances. Though this season’s spirits are especially high, DMA dancers have always shared a contagious passion for their work. This Thanksgiving Break, we caught up with some DMA alumni to hear about how the lessons they learned at the studio are still at work in their lives.
Alli Riley, a DMA dancer of seven years and a recent Point Park University graduate, said that DMA introduced and welcomed her to the dance world with loving arms. “It’s easy to fall into the trap of negativity in the dance world, but it’s important to remember to lift each other up,” said Alli. “DMA showed me how dance can bring you a loving second family while still training and working hard, and I will always carry that mentality with me.”
Alli recently moved to NYC to pursue her professional dance career, a future she found her beginnings with at DMA. When asked to give younger DMA dancers advice on life in the dance world, Alli encouraged them to “keep pushing and discovering” themselves. “Everyone’s artistic and personal future is their own to decide, and will shape beautifully if you continue to work hard and never give up.” Whether pursuing a future as a dancer, or simply finding a way to keep the arts in their lives after their time at the studio, students can take Alli’s words to heart.
Another DMA alumna agreed that the DMA’s teachings were formative for her pre-college years. Kara Kilpatrick danced with DMA for eight years before enrolling at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she studies Psychology, Global Studies, and Arabic. In her time at the studio, Kara served as a natural leader and supportive friend to all.
“DMA taught me to work hard, believe in myself, and to not be afraid to take creative risks,” said Kara. Three important lessons- hard work, confidence, and courage- that not only changed the way Kara danced, but now take form in her daily life. Now a junior, Kara performs regularly with her university’s dance group, and has taken on many leadership roles and academic challenges in college. Whether serving her community through her sorority, or working as an intern in D.C. this past summer, Kara has embedded some of the values fostered at DMA into her communities.
Like Alli, Kara believed the supportive and loving family she found at DMA is something she can take forward in her life. For younger dancers, she encourages them to cherish their time at the studio and see the value in the relationships they have formed and dances they get to work on each week.
We are so proud to watch our alumni grow their talents across their communities, and grateful to see a parallel between their character, and the values we still hold with our young dancers today.
If you are a DMA alumni student or parent, reach out to us! We would love to hear what you are up to, plan reunions, and feature you in an upcoming alumni exposé.