Jade Adams is a soft-spoken young girl who is hesitant to talk about her ballet accomplishments, though they are many.
When asked in her Fishtown home last week if she’s proud of herself, she smiled and shrugged.
“I guess,” she said.
“She’s really modest,” her mother, Jennifer Adams, said with a laugh.
But it’s clear that this budding ballerina expresses herself not through her words, but through her movements — to show a bit of what she can do when Star visited the Adams’ Fishtown home last week, Jade gracefully and comfortably twirled and danced herself around her dining room, bending her legs into seemingly impossible formations, as ballerinas do.
Now, thanks to the help of individuals and businesses in Fishtown, Adams, 12, will be dancing in what Jennifer said is the most significant student competition in the world — the Youth American Grand Prix, which takes place in February at Swarthmore College.
Jennifer reached out to the Fishtown community, where she and her family have lived all their lives, to help her daughter take advantage of this important event in what Jade said she wants to be a lifelong career.
The Grand Prix organizers reached out to Jade’s dance school, The Rock School for Dance Education, and invited her to attend the competition.
Jennifer said they usually don’t invite girls until they are 13 or 14 at the youngest.
“I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I just said go for it, we’ll worry about the funds later,” Jennifer said.
The Rock School covers 40 percent of the costs to the Grand Prix, but Jade’s costume will be $500, plus the remaining competition fees, about $760, not to mention Jade’s tights, leotards and point shoes she’ll need for the competition.
With the holidays looming and no telling how she’d pay for her daughter to get to the competition, Jennifer set up a gofundme.com site asking for a hand in raising donations for the opportunity, at the suggestion of her friends and family.
“Within a day, I already had 25 percent [of the initial goal],” Jennifer said.
She promoted the fundraiser on Facebook, where it was widely shared.
“I had donors I didn’t even know giving money. One donor I didn’t know gave us $240,” she said.
Now, the Fishtown community has helped raise $1,100 dollars — and counting — for Jade’s trip to the Grand Prix.
“I was surprised. It makes me feel really happy,” Jade said.
Jade has been dancing ballet since she was 3 years old, when Jennifer said she noticed that Jade was always on her toes, and loved dressing up in little shoes and pretty gowns. She took instantly to dance, and as she grew up, Jennifer said her daughter appreciated ballet more than other types of dance.
“She hated tap, she wanted the graceful, classical music, she liked to twirl,” Jennifer said.
“It’s a little more relaxed and quiet instead of loud like jazz,” Jade said. She added that she appreciates the artistic nature of ballet.
The challenges, she said, are the hours she has to put into her dance training.
To prepare for the Grand Prix, she now has to practice seven days a week, in addition to other performances in the city and the winter concert this week at her school, the Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School.
“There’s lots and lots of blisters,” she added with a sigh.
But she said it’s worth it.
“It makes me feel happy,” she said, and explained that when she’s on stage, she feels sort of like a different person. “It’s so dark that you can’t see the audience, you kind of forget you’re nervous.”
Since the fundraiser was so successful, Jennifer said she wants to pay it forward in any way she can, since she said she doesn’t want to be simply getting donations without giving back to the community.
“There’s so many local beef-and-beers for sports teams, church bazaars, local cleanups, I’m going to attend and help out whenever I can, and get the kids involved too. I want to be able to give back, even if it’s not to the particular donors,” she said.
As Jennifer and Jade showed off photographs of Jade dancing, Jade chimed in excitedly when she recalled which performances each photo was from.
“I like this one,” she said, and showed on her phone a snapshot of her leaping in the air, one of her legs bent back behind her head.
“Oh, yeah…” Jennifer said, and trailed off. The two shared a quick moment of appreciation before Jennifer said simply, “I’m amazed by what I see her do. I’m so proud of her.”
So, it seems, are many people in Fishtown who donated to Jade’s trip to the Grand Prix.
“You always hear about the negative stuff around here, it always just drowns out all the good,” Jennifer said. “This gave me a new pair of eyes. There are so many good people out there.” ••
Visit Jade’s gofundme.com site at : http://www.gofundme.com/Jadesdreamtodance.
Managing Editor Mikala Jamison can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.