The Joffrey Ballet‘s Community Engagement (CE) programs strive to provide students with exposure to dance, inspiring them to be motivated, dedicated and focused in their everyday lives. These programs are run by Pierre Lockett, Director of Community Engagement at The Joffrey Ballet.
One student has been particularly inspired by The Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement programs. Lawrence Powell, a former Middle School Dance Clubs student, realized the importance of dance in his own life. When he was a 4th grader at Dodge Elementary School, Lawrence was first exposed to his love for dance by participating in the Middle School Dance Clubs program. Gretta Chamberlain, Chicago Public School teacher and coordinator of the program at Dodge, said “Lawrence began to realize the possibilities of what he could achieve through hard work, dedication, and believing in himself.”
Inspired by watching the company’s rehearsal of Don Quixote, Lawrence decided that he wanted to branch out of his comfort zone and perform a classical ballet piece for his upcoming Spark Showcase at Dodge Elementary. Pierre and Lawrence soon began rehearsing his piece to the music of Don Quixote. During the rehearsal process, Pierre provided Lawrence with continual guidance and support. In turn, Lawrence’s eyes were opened to a new appreciation for dance, and himself. Pierre also began to notice a change in Lawrence, who began to show a new side of his personality, one that was confident and enthusiastic. Lawrence also expressed to Pierre his desire to choreograph and teach in the future. With this new found confidence and passion for dance, Lawrence successfully performed a solo in front of his peers at the school’s showcase.
With eighth grade graduation approaching, Lawrence was finally prepared to audition for the next step in his education: participating in the highly selective Dance Conservatory at Chi Arts. Although Lawrence was nervous, he had the confidence and determination to audition. After a challenging audition process and what seemed like an endless waiting period, Lawrence was informed that he would be one of thirty students accepted into the next freshman class at Chi Arts.
Lawrence’s story is truly inspiring. His achievement was not only a result of taking his dance training to the next level, but is also an example of the personal growth he experienced. With the important challenges he faced by performing in front of his peers and auditioning for one of the most renowned programs in the Chicagoland area, Lawrence presents an excellent example of the importance of the arts in our schools and our community.
“The arts can really bring out the best in people, especially those who have a true passion for it,” Pierre explained. “The arts are truly an inspiration for young students like Lawrence.”