Stepping Up: Student organizes dance to raise funds for cancer research

Madison Flowers, Mariah Barbee and Kali Calhoun, members of the Fort Meade SKIES Dance Studio, sail through the air as they perform "Me Too" at "Dancing For A Cure," a charity dance event held Friday at Meade High School. (Photos by Phil Grout)

When Chloe Barbour learned last summer that a friend was diagnosed with brain cancer, she wanted to do something to help.

“Nobody should have to deal with this,” said Chloe, 14, a sophomore at Meade High School who is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Programme. “It’s just not fair, especially for someone at such a young age.”

Chloe and her friend, 11-year-old Riley Marshall, both share a love of dance. The two take lessons at the Edna Lee Dance Studio in Glen Burnie.

To support Riley, Chloe decided to organize a charity dance performance, “Dancing For A Cure,” to raise funds for child cancer research at a local hospital.

The 90-minute event, held Friday at Meade High, raised $1,300.

Cancer survivor Claire Russell, who has been cancer-free for 18 months, is an active member of the Fort Meade SKIES Dance Studio.

“The performance was absolutely amazing,” Chloe said after the event. “It was just great.”

Organizing the event was the subject of Chloe’s IB Middle Years Programme Personal Project, a yearlong independent research project that IB sophomores are required to complete.

Sean Keatley, the faculty facilitator for the IB Middle Years Programme, helps coordinate student projects and see them to fruition.

“This is a way for students to embark on a long-term individual project about something they are passionate about,” Keatley said. “They do the planning, research, implementation, and reflect on what they have learned.”

As they work on the project, students are required to keep a process journal and complete a report that reflects the process and the results of the project. Students also are required to work with a faculty adviser.

For several months, Chloe worked with Sarah Mitchell-Sherman, artistic director of Meade High’s dance company and her dance instructor, to organize the charity event.

“Being a dancer herself, Chloe understands process,” Mitchell-Sherman said. “Organizing a dance concert or production of any scale is an arduous process, yet a delicate dance.

“One needs to be open-minded to constantly changing variables — dancers, lighting, music, concert order, dress rehearsal — and dedicated to the long process of the project, and knowledgeable about what you are presenting.”

Chloe reached out to eight local dance companies, including the dance companies at MacArthur and Meade middle schools and Fort Meade’s SKIES Dance Studio, and asked them to participate with their own choreographed dance routines.

She coordinated the routines and worked with members of Meade High’s drama club to provide technical assistance with lighting, sound and music on the evening of the performance.

Chloe researched the current funding sources for child cancer research and produced the program for the event.

She also provided refreshments for the 10-minute intermission. Her parents provided pizza for the dancers after the performance.

The dance companies performed a wide range of dance styles including ballet, tap, modern jazz and hip-hop.

“The dancers who were involved know and are very supportive of Riley and her whole journey,” said Mary Moran, owner of the Edna Lee Dance Studio.

Chloe Barbour, a sophomore in Meade High School’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme and organizer of “Dancing For A Cure,” meets with dancers prior to the performance on Friday evening.

A highlight was a solo hip-hop-lock performance by Katelyn Bauer, a friend of Chloe’s and a Meade High junior.

“I felt good about myself,” said Katelyn, 16, an honors student. “I felt very good and honored to dance for a good cause and for all children who are going through cancer.”

Mia Simmons, a sixth-grader in MacArthur Middle School’s dance company, was happy to to be among the many young dancers supporting the event.

“It was pretty cool to dance for something good,” Mia said. “It was all worth it.”

Chloe said she was thrilled that the Fort Meade community supported her efforts.

“I’m really super happy,” she said. “It’s amazing!”

Chloe said she learned a lot about herself in the process of organizing the event.

“I’ve never been in a situation where all expectations were on me. It was very overwhelming,” she said. “I learned how to take my fear and stress and make it work for me.

“I was nervous that people wouldn’t show up or that I wouldn’t reach my goal. Now I realize I really did not have to be nervous, that I could use my energy to be more productive.”

The teen said she also learned the importance of teamwork.

“I did not realize how much a production like this is really a group effort of people working behind the scenes,” Chloe said.

Sherman-Mitchell said she is optimistic that Chloe has learned that “some things in life are a process, much like dance.”

“I want her to use the skills she acquired through her own process and apply them to other aspects of her life — clear communication, being a risk-taker, and to remain inquisitive and open-minded,” Sherman-Mitchell said.

Chloe is now working on her personal project report. As she looks ahead to college, Chloe plans to major in psychology and minor in dance.

Chloe said she looks forward to continuing in the IB Diploma Programme as a junior and senior.

“This is a genuinely fun class,” she said. “I know it’s a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it.”

The Meade High Dance Company taps out the opening number for “Dancing For A Cure,” a charity event that raised $1,300 for child cancer research.
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