Ballet, Arabic, and empowerment

by Kelsey Hatcher with foreward by Martha Madison

Dear readers, let me introduce to you to Dance Arts Graduate Kelsey Hatcher. Miss Kelsey is an amazing teacher at our Dance Arts School. She has “the stuff that dancers are made of!” She has a goal and the determination to make it happen! She needs to share this with you, so read on. –Martha Madison

I am probably one of the busiest people you will ever meet. I work full time between my jobs as a dance instructor, nanny, and cosmetologist. I am also currently finishing my last semester at WKU with a dance and Arabic double major. These three things remain true about my life: I am a dancer; I love children; I enjoy helping people feel empowered. I have many plans for my future that involve all three of these passions, but the one I am most excited about is the prospect of teaching dance in Arabic-speaking countries. Dance has always been something I have felt privileged to do. I know there are children all over the world who dream of a day when they can dance, too. It is truly humbling to realize that I have had these amazing opportunities to dance and express myself while others have not. This is the main reason I want to travel and teach abroad – to provide more chances for children all around the world to dance.

Arabic has given me the opportunity to reach more people with my love for dance. I am constantly reminded of the need for more individuals in our community who speak different languages. I became familiar with this while I was a student at Bowling Green High, which happened to be the first Kentucky high school to offer Arabic as a language class. As a university town, we are surrounded by all kinds of different cultures and languages. My introductory Arabic classes influenced me positively to learn more about cultures other than my own. I fell in love with the language and Middle Eastern culture right off the bat. Before I knew it, I had memorized a totally foreign alphabet and could participate in a basic conversation. Something became very clear to me as a teenager while learning this foreign language. Everyone deserves someone to speak to in his or her native language. It is unfortunate that so many refugees and immigrants feel alienated because of a language barrier.

Specifically, I would love to teach ballet in the Arabic language to offer a more inclusive experience for Arabic-speaking communities. I aim to work with refugees in the United States to provide a creative outlet for personal expression. Dance is successful as a therapeutic technique and can provide great opportunities for improving self-image and building self-esteem. I feel extremely lucky to be able to share my love for dance with others so that they may also find their passion and motivation. Generally, ballet is not as readily available in Arabic-speaking areas because the teachers simply aren’t there. While other styles of dance may be more accessible, I believe that ballet would be more beneficial since it holds greater opportunities for self-discipline. Currently, I am working on organizing a community outreach ballet class that will be taught in Arabic so that I can practice perfecting this skill. While the future may seem busier than ever, I look forward to all of the opportunities that it holds.

Our Dance Arts creed is in place so that when we get the opportunity to perform, our dancers are reminded of their great privilege in being able to dance. Dancers are also encouraged to remember to be thankful and appreciative of the opportunities they are given. I am proud to say our creed with the young dancers because every line of it remains true, even as I am writing this as an adult. I feel a great deal of honor to be able to teach the next generations about appreciation and privilege. Finally, I ask you to read aloud the following creed and think about the ways that you can apply this message to your own life.

Dance Arts Creed: “I am grateful for the opportunity to discover my own identity through the art form of dance. I thank my teachers for sharing their passion and knowledge. I dedicate my performance to all of the children in the world who will not have the opportunities that I will. I will use my talents that have been given to me to give back. I am a dancer. Not because I am great or even because I am good, but because my soul says dance… And I do.”