Ten-year-old Ally Owens is a shy, "A"-student who, according to her mother Alicia Elam, "rarely steps away from technology." Except when she's immersed in dance classes at Cutno Dance Center, where she spends at least five hours per week studying tap, jazz, modern, ballet, African and hip-hop.
Ally was among the many young dancers who attended Augusta Ballet's free, August screening of the acclaimed documentary "First Position," which follows the compelling trials and triumphs of six young dancers competing for opportunities in the international world of ballet. As much as her peers enjoyed the film, cheering and jeering its subjects' emotional ups and downs, Ally felt a special connection with the figure of Michaela DePrince.
"We were both adopted and we both like to dance," Ally said. "We have self-discipline." For Ally, DePrince's experience - having been tragically orphaned in Sierra Leone and shunned as a result of the vitiligo affecting her skin color - resonated deeply. Like Michaela, Ally has found in her adoptive family the opportunity, among many others, to pursue her love of dance.
In appreciation of Ally's willingness to share her story, Augusta Ballet presented her with a copy of DePrince's book, "Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina." Said Alicia, "Ally bypassed television time last night AND this morning to continue reading the book. That is a miracle."