Setting the Barre

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Setting the Barre

Chattanooga Ballet’s alumni share what the ‘gift of dance’ means to them.

It may feel like a lifetime ago since we’ve seen several members of our ballet school and company soar and spin across the stage. And no wonder – these talented former dancers juggle busy schedules with aplomb. We reached out to a few of these alumni recently to gain insight on how dance has changed their lives.

brooke moore current
Brooke Moore – Chattanooga Ballet Alumna
Admissions Director
The Bright School

Brooke pictured as ‘Clara’ during a scene in ‘The Nutcracker,’ in 1991
photo taken by Chattanooga Times Free Press

What does the ‘gift of dance’ mean to you?
“Chattanooga Ballet has been such an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. At a very young age – I discovered my passion – and that was ballet. I was immersed in the world of dance until I went to college; both through Chattanooga Ballet as well as at Girls Preparatory School where I attended middle and high school. Through dance, I learned to be comfortable in my own skin.

How did it help prepare you for life and the success you have today?
“Ballet was essential to building my self-confidence and giving me an outlet to express myself. Time management is also a skill I learned early on at a young age; it helped that I was fully engaged in dance – with classes six days a week. Balancing school, dance and all of my other extracurricular activities was a challenge. However, I learned to juggle all of it and still maintain an intense dance schedule; because I loved it so much. I am empowered today because of my Chattanooga Ballet experience and the ‘gift of dance.’ I am grateful for those intangible skills I gained – self- confidence, poise and time management – which have allowed me to live a much fuller life. My dancer friends were like a second family and the memories we made together will be with me always. Today, serving on the ballet board is just one way I can give back to an organization that gave me so much as a young girl.”

Caroline Walker
Caroline Walker – Chattanooga Ballet Alumna
Commercial Banker
Atlantic Capital Bank
Caroline Walker and Lauren Carter_  Nutcracker

Caroline in 2003; pictured as a marzipan with fellow dancer, Lauren Carter at a Nutcracker production

What does the gift of ‘dance’ mean to you?
“The word ‘freedom’ comes to mind when I think about dance. The ‘gift of dance’ to me represents the freedom to express myself in a way that words cannot. Dance has been one of the true gifts in my life which I will cherish forever. I am drawn to that realm – the combination of athleticism, musicality, and the creative process – together is pure magic.”

How did it help prepare you for life and the success you have today?
‘Dance has helped me understand discipline. I am able to improvise through situations, and accept challenges and unique opportunities- even pivot down a different path, if necessary. Every dance class, rehearsal, and performance is different. It takes an enormous dose of mental and emotional energy to engage in that universe of movement and thrive. As dancers, we ultimately grasp the idea that each experience is different. You learn to dive into that sphere of movement and enjoy the ride.”

Zoe Ubamadu – Chattanooga Ballet Alumna
Baylor School Sophomore
Baylor School Dance Program five year member
All Regional and State Championship Volleyball player
Zoe Ubamadu and fellow dancer, mouse king

Zoe in 2009; pictured as a mouse with a fellow dancer, at a Nutcracker production

What does the gift of ‘dance’ mean to you?
“I was introduced to the world of dance at age three and I continue to enjoy this amazing form of movement during my high school experience. When I dance, I feel totally uninhibited and free. Dance is my nirvana. It creates a space for me to be fully immersed – body and soul – it makes me feel alive. It’s so important for me to have this outlet to explore parts of my mind that are usually shut off. The intense demands of excelling at school, playing a varsity sport and other extracurricular activities can be so draining, but as soon as I set foot in the dance studio, I feel like all that burden is lifted off my shoulders. I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything in the world.”

How did it help prepare you for life and the success you have today?
“Overall, dance has taught me how to focus, engage and be mindful. Focus is an integral part of movement. Learning how to choreograph takes so much focus – if you miss a small thing – you can send the entire house of cards tumbling. However, when you are able to focus and comprehend the pieces, the output is magical. Dance has also helped me improve how I relate to others. I think it is such a cool thing when you can improvise on the fly. When my dance teacher pairs us up to create a combination, at the time it seems like such a daunting task. We all know meeting and relating to new people can be tough but when dancers are thrown into this uncomfortable situation, it becomes essential for them to connect quickly with their dance partner. My interpersonal skills are rock solid today thanks to ‘dance.’ Through dance, I can express my passion for life. It’s my outlet. It’s my reason for being.”