Dance program turns dream into reality for Shawnee teen - KCTV5

Dance program turns dream into reality for Shawnee teen

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From a soccer field to an elementary school gym to the Kauffman Center stage, the dream of becoming a dancer is becoming a reality for a Shawnee teen.

For 14-year-old Tavin Cook, the idea of not dancing is not just a thought, it is a reality.

"The thought of not dancing is just crazy. I couldn't do it," Tavin said.

She started studying dance at an early age, but in second grade when her friends started signing up for a soccer team, she made a move from the dance studio to the soccer field.

That is when, in fourth grade, the Reach Out And Dance, or ROAD, program came to her school. Tavin now says dance is her life now.

"A student like Tavin might not have ever even thought of coming to the Kansas City Ballet until this program had entered her school," ROAD instructor Tess Butterfield said.

"It's a lot more than dance class," she said. "We teach them the basic fundamentals of dance, musicality ,movement through the music, tempo, timing and rhythm."

The ROAD program travels to 10 area schools where Butterfield teaches the joy of dance to all.

"We work with anybody that's in this class. Special needs, autism, all of that. It gives them the opportunity to portray themselves and who they are. It gives them a chance to shine as themselves," Butterfield said.

Once a week, the ROAD program would come to Tavin's reinspiring her.

"It was just being back, going into dance, and I love dance so much,"  she said.

And her mother, Joanie Cook, saw that love.

"She decided that ballet is what she loved and she gave up soccer," Joanie Cook said.

Now, four days a week, Tavin takes classes at the Kansas City Ballet School and can be seen onstage at the Kauffman Center dancing in The Nutcracker.  This makes Butterfield extremely proud.

"I'm excited. It gives me chills to think that one of my students from a ROAD program has taken her career, so to speak, this far into the dance ballet world," Butterfield said.

A career for Tavin doesn't end after The Nutcracker. She has already landed a part in a A Midsummer Night's Dream.

To keep the ROAD program alive, the Kansas City Ballet is now solely paying the $90,000 it costs. In exchange, the schools must keep the program for the next two years. 

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