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“When people see a rose growing through a crack in the concrete, their instinct is to pluck it, take it away from its harsh environment, and place it somewhere more beautiful. We see ourselves as concrete roses. We managed to bloom in difficult urban neighborhoods, but we don’t want to leave our communities behind. Our successes are not truly successes unless we use them to give back.”  Andrea Lewis, Moving in the Spirit alumna

This heartfelt declaration by Andrea Lewis, founder of Moving in the Spirit’s burgeoning Alumni Committee, sends my spirit soaring. Many young people have danced across our stages in our 27-year history, overcoming tremendous obstacles to re-imagine themselves and reach their highest potential. And while witnessing the growth of these young people has been rewarding beyond measure, it has been my greatest privilege to see them return, unprompted, to mentor and serve the next generation of young people at Moving in the Spirit.

Alumni have flocked to support Moving in the Spirit over the years as teachers, donors, mentors and now parents with their own children in our programs. Realizing they could have even greater impact on the organization working collectively, they formed an official Alumni Committee. This past winter they produced and performed in the first-ever Alumni Show, selling out our theater and raising funds to send our teen company on a life-changing tour to Chicago. Concrete Rose, the signature piece they created for the concert (referenced by Andrea in her quote above), beautifully portrays their commitment as alumni.

I witnessed the spirit of giving come full circle this summer as Andrea and the Alumni Committee held its very first alumni induction ceremony for our graduating seniors. Several weeks later, my heart swelled as I watched Darion Thompson, newly graduated from high school, perform with his fellow Moving in the Spirit alumni in our Summer Camp concert. I have seen the work they chose to share, a powerful call for tolerance called Frayed Glory, performed many times over the last two decades across the United States and abroad. This time it held special meaning for me as Darion stepped into the choreographic moccasins of Sitting Bull, the role originally performed in 1995 by his longtime mentor and teacher, alumnus Chris McCord.

I share this story with you, our dedicated supporters, because your gracious investment in our young people has made this possible. Our work together has launched these young leaders out into the world full of confidence and promise, and the values they learned here have drawn them back in. It is a homecoming, a vision realized, and my grateful heart is singing.

Humbly,

Dana Marie Lupton, Executive & Artistic Director