Dancing toward her dreams

The Fishtown com­munity has pitched in to help a young baller­ina se­cure a place in a very im­port­ant com­pet­i­tion.

  • Jade Adams during ballet practice. SUBMITTED BY JENNIFER ADAMS

  • Jade Adams, 12, in blue, is a Fishtown ballerina heading to competition in February. PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER ADAMS

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 mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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