If you’ve had a child involved with any Atlanta Ballet dance program over the last twenty years, you’ve been impacted by Sharon Story. The fifty-something former professional ballerina oversees the Ballet’s Centre for Dance Education, which teaches discipline, focus, camaraderie, and self-exploration to 20,000 children and youth each year. Of course, it offers them first-rate dance training to boot. Story grew the school from humble beginnings to its current position as one of the few accredited dance centers in the country.
While the success stories are too many to enumerate, a few stand out. There was Sibahle Tshibika from Johannesburg, for whom Story funded ballet training in Atlanta. Tshibika went on to win So You Think You Can Dance, South Africa and plans to open a community school to help other youngsters find a way out of poverty through dance. Another is Vanessa Alamo, an Atlantan who began with the Centre’s summer program in partnership with the Latin American Association at age eight, continuing on a scholarship all the way to the Ballet’s pre-professional division. She now dances at Brandeis University and plans to create a similar after-school arts program wherever she winds up.
Story, mother to a grown son, says the generational impact of programs like those offered by the Atlanta Ballet can’t be overstated, especially with arts education being cut in many schools. “Whatever lives we can touch make a difference,” she says.
Words of Wisdom