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Caroline: Young ballerina in New York City

November 23, 2015

Working hard and living a dream …


Caroline and friend Diana in Central Park. Photo courtesy of Jon Catherine Dolittle.

Today I’d like to tell you about Caroline, a young woman who is currently studying ballet in New York City. Just to write that sentence is a WOW. She’s really there, after years of doing what she loves most, dancing.

I knew Caroline as a young girl and member of our church. My youngest daughter “babysat” for her a time or two when she was old enough and Caroline thrived on creative, imaginative play. Her father is an engineer but her mother, Mary Jean, has mostly worked on their mini-farm to help with family income, as well as giving horseback riding lessons—mostly on a donation basis because they couldn’t afford the liability insurance to cover a riding program.


Caroline as a “princess” in a horseback riding competition.

But the horseback riding—another love for Caroline—not unrelated to the grace of ballet, inspired Caroline and her mother to help out at a nearby therapeutic stable and camp for children and adults with disabilities. One year they even planned a fundraiser birthday party for Mary Jean’s elderly pony, Trixie, to raise money to help build an amazing wheelchair accessible tree house for the nonprofit therapeutic program at Camp Still Meadows.


Newspaper clipping of Caroline and her mother when they planned a fundraiser for a wheelchair-accessible treehouse.

I knew her mother and grandparents even longer—her grandfather was the pastor who married me and my husband almost 40 years ago. So the ties are long and special. And the whole family is that kind of family—always responding to help others as needed.


Caroline’s class at Joffrey Ballet.

Caroline is currently studying ballet at the renowned Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. I know she is working hard. I was amused at one quote from an instructor she shared on her Facebook page, “I want to see a LINE, Caroline. Your name even has “line” in it.”


Posing in a subway station.


Enjoying sidewalk eats (notice the pink slippers at the bottom of the jeans).


At the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This fall Caroline has enjoyed all the city has to offer, but mainly because it is bringing her closer to her dream. Here she shares some of her experience and the hard work:

“Everyday I’m here is one step closer to my dream of getting a job as a professional ballet dancer. Not only am I getting the training I need but the city itself is such an opportunity for young artists. Everywhere I look there’s inspiration and such respect for the arts! Being here is such an amazing opportunity that I’ll do almost anything to stay here for the rest of the school year.

It means the world to me that people believe in me enough to donate. It blows my mind sometimes. But having that support does more than help me financially. On those days where I’m having an off day, feel like I’ve got three left feet, and when I’m in the middle of four hour rehearsals and my body’s just like “Nope, I’m done now,” I look myself in the mirror and say to myself: “Pull yourself together Caroline. There are people out there who believe in you enough to give you their hard earned money. If they can believe in you enough to give you this chance, you can do the waltz of the flowers one more time.”

Caroline very much wanted to come home for Thanksgiving, but no one could really afford to buy the train ticket for her, especially since she gets to come home for Christmas. Her grandfather, Don, suggested, “All your life you’ve watched the Macy Parade on Thanksgiving Day. Millions of people would love to be where you are and able to watch the parade in person, and here you are, living in the city. Maybe this year is the year for you to see it!”


Macy’s Parade, 2001

Caroline, according to her grandfather, thought about it and decided he was right, and she could stay in the city with some of her new friends from abroad and other places too far to go home. She calls her ballet group her “Joffrey family.” Still, I know her parents and family will miss her greatly.


Caroline and her mother, Mary Jean.

I’m proud to know a young ballerina following her dream in New York City, but mainly because she’s not just star struck. She has said she wants to study ballet until she is able to land a job with a company in any midsize city that offers that opportunity closer to her home, such as Richmond, Va.—it doesn’t have to be New York!


Caroline hamming it up outside a theater marque.

Perhaps you too are inspired to join me in helping Caroline in her dream. Scholarships for Joffrey School of Ballet where Caroline is enrolled are not commonly offered, so students are left to find family funding or anyway they can. She is trying to raise money one semester at a time.

Here’s the link to the Go Fund Me page for Caroline. I know she would appreciate any amount you can spare.


You can also leave your good wishes, prayers, or comments/stories for Caroline here and I’ll be sure she sees them.


Here’s one of my own favorite posts about some dreams fulfilled for our daughters, including our trip to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2001.


A blessed and happy Thanksgiving to all. And now I’ll take a mini-blog vacation, thank you very much! There are children and grandchildren to feed, love & hug!


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. You are so gracious to tell Caroline’s story here and provide a link to help her reach that dream.

    We have a grandson that shows theatrical tendencies. He’s now 8, but ever since he’s an itty, bitty boy he has loved to dress up in home-made costumes. Anything will do. He’s recently wrapped himself in gauze to mimic a mummy, and recently I’ve shown him on my Facebook page with an upturned laundry basket over his head playing his keyboard. I guess we shouldn’t expect “normal” in a family with a grandpa artist and grandma writer. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

  2. I love that creativity–and wondered what the story was about playing the keyboard under an upturned laundry basket. Fun stuff. My kids had a large box of costumes and discards that they would drag out every now and then and just go wild with it. I still have a box of clothing in my attic made or used for their high school musicals that I couldn’t bear to part with, thinking grandchildren might enjoy dressing up in those costumes sometime. So far, we’ve got two boys, and another boy on the way (no girls), but I’m not complaining–at all, and I’m sure the grands might still find a way to enjoy those costumes someday. Viva la art! And I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well.

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