Inspired by watching her dancers grow and develop like exquisite butterflies, Denise McClendon, artistic director of the McClendon Performing Arts Institute (MPAI) which is now located at DeKalb County’s Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center on Rainbow Drive, used Changes to recognize and honor life’s journey, including the transitions her graduating seniors are making to college life and beyond.
“When I reflected on the changes our students have gone through, especially our graduating seniors who have collectively been with MPAI for more than 10 years, I was moved to choreograph, with my talented team of instructors, a production that represented a metamorphosis,”
Morgan Baker who graduated from Shepherds Ridge Academy will attend Ft. Valley State University, Kajarra Daily who graduated from Lakeside High School will attend Georgia Southern University and major in chemistry, and Marnetia ReFour, who graduated from the DeKalb School of the Arts, will be heading to the University of Georgia to double major in political science and language.
“Dancing at MPAI has taught me that with dedication and hard work, I can do anything and anything is possible. That is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Daily. “MPAI has helped me lose a lot of weight which helped boost my confidence, turning me into a better dancer. And although I don't want to be a professional dancer, dancing at MPAI has given me once in a lifetime opportunities to take classes with top choreographers.”
Most only witness the finished product of a performance, the entertaining art form that is beautiful in all its variations, but as a dancer, ReFour says she also enjoys experiencing all of the aspects of putting on a performance. “As a dancer, I experience the ‘behind the scenes’ action. I undergo the long rehearsals, the sweat, the blood, the tears, and the toll it takes on a person mentally, physically and spiritually. MPAI does not merely teach the techniques, it teaches about so many lessons in life. Without a shadow of a doubt, dance has been my biggest life challenge and in it some of my most valuable lessons learned. MPAI will impact my future because I have learned about endurance, perseverance, commitment and discipline, just to name a few.”
Baker claims MPAI has transformed her into a determined young lady. “Miss Denise and the other instructors at the school have taught me that anything I believe I can achieve, and that I can be a leader and not a follower,” said Baker. “I believe that all the training and the development that I have received will benefit me in the long run because it has given me discipline and respect for many things in my life. It has also brought me even closer to God and to understand who he really was.”
“Dancing until you feel your lungs close in, until you feel your limbs slowly and painfully get heavier, until you feel your body temperature increase so drastically you begin to sway just a bit, maybe searching for air or because your head is a little light. This is when you endure. You learn to stay focused on your goal, persistently reaching for it.”
- Marnetia ReFour, MPAI and DeKalb School of the Arts graduate
McClendon Performing Arts is also offering a Summer Intensive Program for 7 year olds and older at Exchange Park located on Columbia Drive beginning June 13, and Summer Saturday for 2-7 year olds beginning June 18 at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts and Community Center on Rainbow Drive to help students explore their artistic talents in ballet, tap, hip-hop, jazz, African, theater, and music. Call 404/292-4920 for more information or visit www.mcclendonarts.com.
ABOUT THE MCCLENDON PERFORMING ARTS INSTITUTE
Operating for more than 30 years, and serving students throughout metro Atlanta, the McClendon Performing Arts Institute uses dance as a fountainhead in a holistically designed curriculum that incorporates dance, music and drama with motivational instruction, and emphasizes academic excellence as well as moral and ethical values.
In addition to its dance specialties for children and adults - classical ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and praise & worship, as well as music and drama lessons, McClendon provides academic tutoring with proven teaching techniques that has helped the Institute mold and develop kids and young adults, while simultaneously building character. The McClendon techniques have played a pivotal role in gaining its students acceptance into the nation's top dance programs such as Alvin Ailey's Dance Theatre at Fordham University and North Carolina School of the Arts, to name just a few. For more information about the McClendon Performing Arts Institute visit www.mcclendonarts.com or go to Facebook and see them at www.facebook.com/
HIGH RESOLUTION PHOTO AVAILABLE OF GRADUATES AND DENISE MCCLENDON