A community partnership has brought internship, work study and volunteer opportunities to Belmont students while also providing young ballet dancers with lifelong role models. Belmont University has established several connections with local nonprofit Rejoice School of Ballet, an organization dedicated to celebrating dancers from diverse racial, socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Established in 2000, the school aims to offer high-quality dance lessons to children who are unable to afford classes elsewhere. Since opening its doors, more than 1,200 students have received a dance education from professional faculty that emphasizes diversity and Christian formation.
As a result of the partnership, Rejoice School of Ballet currently has two Belmont student interns who help with an after-school ballet program at Hadley Park Community Center in North Nashville. The school has also employed seven students as teaching assistants through Belmont’s work study program where they assist dance instructors. Additionally, two Belmont Service Year students, a program the University offers that provides students with free housing in exchange for regular volunteer work, have completed their service hours at Rejoice.
While these connections offer significant opportunities to Belmont students, Rejoice School of Ballet Founding Executive Director Patricia Cross believes that the presence of Belmont students in the school’s dance classes has also been beneficial for her students. “Over the past several years, we have been blessed to have Belmont students as volunteers and teaching assistants. These young people model for our students what the next stage of their life can look like. They are professional and kind. They are dedicated students and community volunteers. They are the kind of young people we are teaching our dancers they can grow up to be,” said Cross.
In addition to having Belmont students involved at several of the School’s four locations, Rejoice will host its annual spring showcase, complete with 140 dancers, at Belmont’s Troutt Theater. “Using the beautiful theater on Belmont’s campus is such a treat for our dancers,” Cross said. “To have access to a venue as excellent as our training gives our dancers and their families an added sense of accomplishment and pride.”
Rejoice also has two Belmont alumnae on its faculty, Ashlyn Hall and Molly (Thatcher) Robinson, who are both dance minors. Hall teaches ballet, tap and modern classes and is the assistant director of the school’s upcoming ballet, “The Sleeping Beauty.” Robinson teaches tap and strength and conditioning among other classes. She also helps introduce younger students to the world of ballet in an interesting way that encourages participation in the school’s pre-professional training track. In addition to Hall and Robinson, Rejoice’s Administrative Assistant Meghan Lamb is also a Belmont graduate. Lamb volunteered at the school throughout her time at Belmont.
“Belmont has been a faithful partner with Rejoice for many years,” said Cross. “As we work to provide excellent ballet training, the volunteers and staff we have from Belmont have helped us create an environment focused on spiritual formation and excellence for our young dancers.”
For more information on Rejoice School of Ballet and the services it offers, visit its website.
Photographs by permission of Rejoice School of Ballet.