‘Second home’: BADA has taught dancers about respect & responsibility

By Grace Danieley and Bella Exum
Times-News correspondents


Performers who will be dancing the roles of the von Trapp children (standing from left to right): Luc Blocker, Hannah Blalock and Mason Gaddis. From left to right (sitting and kneeling): Bella Exum, Madeline Gilliam, Katie Clark and Grace Danieley. [Bob Stuart

When I was born, my Dad always said that I was going to be his   “barrel racing girl.”
Little did he know that instead of sitting through years of barrel racing competitions, he would be in the audience of countless dance performances. I started dancing at Burlington Academy of Dance and Arts (BADA) at 2 years old. Fast forward 16 years, and as my final performance approaches, I am beginning to realize just how much dancing at BADA has impacted my life. Dancing takes total commitment and lots of time at the studio.
So many times my parents have been out somewhere and someone would ask, “`Where is Grace?’ They would respond, “She’s at dance.” Recently, my mom asked me if I would regret the opportunities I had missed because of dance. I told her that what I have gained as a dancer would far outweigh any sacrifices I have made.
Throughout the years, my experiences at BADA have made me stronger as a person, teaching me to meet and overcome challenges. From day one, the instructors instilled the values of self-control, confidence, leadership, respect and responsibility. They taught that persistence leads to growth, growth leads to confidence, and confidence leads to success — qualities that can be found in every BADA dancer. My teachers not only taught those values, they exemplified them, demonstrating to each dancer what it means to have a passionate heart for dance.
I will be attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro next year where I will be continuing my dance education. I know that all I have learned through the years at BADA will help me in the future. As I prepare for my final performances, I think back on the memories of past years. From dancing to “I’m So Glad I’m Me” as a 2-year-old, to portraying Marta Von Trapp this year as a senior. It is bittersweet as I say goodbye, but I will always keep with me the many friendships I have made and no matter what my future holds, BADA will always be a part of me.

Grace Danieley is a senior at Western Alamance High School.

   Similar to Grace, I started dancing at BADA when I was 2 years old. While I fell in love with dance at a young age, I did not develop my true passion for it until around 6th grade. It was then that I decided I wanted to dance professionally. Thanks to my incredible training at BADA, I have auditioned and been accepted into the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ high school contemporary dance program which I will attend this upcoming fall and continue my journey into the professional dance world.
While I could go on and on about what I have gained from my 13 years of training at BADA, I will narrow it down to three things. From being told to never say “I can’t” I have learned the principles of strength and perseverance. When I was injured and thought I couldn’t possibly catch up with all my peers by performance, I had an entire army of dancers behind me saying “yes you can.”
From the reiteration of the principle of respect by my dance teachers, I have come to understand that this not only includes being respectful and accepting of others but also having respect and acceptance for myself. Lastly, at BADA I have learned what is means to feel loved and welcomed in a community of Christ. It is typical of every ballet class to end with a reverence in which dancers thank the pianist and instructor for class.
However, the dancers at BADA see our beloved ballet instructor Virginia Dupont’s “end of class” as a special time to reflect on why we dance and give thanks for being able to do so. In a series of prayers and praises, following the leader, dancing one by one, and holding hands in a circle while passing love around, the Lord’s presence fills the studio.
As I take my last end of class, I will pray that my friends and I put on a fantastic show, that everyone stays safe while doing so, and that we enjoy every minute of it. I will praise the Lord for my training, the love, the laughs, the memories, and the beautiful relationships I have built at BADA.

Bella Exum is a rising high school junior at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.


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