What originally began as a passing thought in the mind of ACES dance teacher Sally Perez, turned into a beautiful and memorable day of giving for a wonderful group of young women. Last fall, Aventura City of Excellence School (ACES) held the first ever “Big Sisters of the Arts” dance donation event.
Created by Perez, the vision and mission of “Big Sisters of the Arts” is to make a real-life connection between ACES dance students and other dance students throughout the community. Perez’s goal was to not just receive donations, but to have students make real connections and bonds with other students who share a love of dance.
ACES dance students were asked to donate new and gently used costumes to pass on to “little sisters”. For several months the ambitious teacher collected beautiful pieces from generous ACES students, while simultaneously looking for a group to partner with.
After a phone call with Brittany Kernohan, Director of Selah Academy in Hollywood, Perez knew she had found the perfect group to donate and to collaborate with. Kernohan is the creator of Selah’s Song, a program where “no student is ever turned away due to inability to pay”.
In November, Kernohan and some of her students travelled to Aventura and were greeted by Ms. Perez and several ACES dance students at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center (AACC). The visiting guests moved from table to table selecting from over 100 costumes and dancewear pieces that were all donated by ACES students. Afterwards the students were invited into the theater where they created a short dance piece together with their new found “Sisters of the Arts”.
“The look of joy on their faces as they entered was priceless. The excitement and appreciation were so genuine that it touched my heart. It made my day, to be a part of such a wonderful experience,” said Perez. “It was a dream come true. I had this vision in my mind of making a real connection with another group of dancers, and having an opportunity to give back. Watching the girls work together and watching the afternoon play out the way it did was simply spectacular.”
“It is so neat to see how a common love of dance can make you an instant friend” said Kernohan as she watched her dance students become fast friends with the ACES dance students.
“What the girls created in such a short amount of time was simply awesome,” praised ACES Assistant Principal Jorge Paz.
As the students exited the theater, smiles and hugs were exchanged, and hearts were full. What began simply as an idea had manifested into the perfect day of giving and sharing with a wonderful group of students. “It was everything I hoped it would be and more!” added Perez.