Rachelle Bennett, a 16 year old West High School junior is the first member of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble from Morristown.
The mission of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble is as relevant today as it was in 1981 when Dr. Dorothy Floyd founded what was then the only professional children’s dance company in the United States.
When Gov. Ned McWherter named the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble the state’s official Goodwill Ambassadors, He could not have imagined the lengths to which the group would go to fulfill its mission. From the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to great Britain, Norway, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia , Canada, and most recently Jordan – TCDE demonstrates beyond doubt the universal language of dance.
The 2004 trip to Sri Lanka, just months before that country was forever changed by a monumental disaster was the Ensemble’s first international tour since the events of 9/11 and as in all tours that preceded it, TCDE exemplified the groups founding principle that children are capable of achieving artistic excellence and that sharing excellence is an incredible privilege and gift. TCDE’s far-flung journeys carry forth their mission of forever changing the way people think about young people in the arts and adding a new dimension to the way people think about Tennessee and her cultural resources.
On tour, Ensemble members are not tourists or mere children, they are working dancers and diplomats. Like athletes, they often give three performances a day, live by stringent set of traveling rules. They want people to remember Tennessee with delight and to leave with a new expectation of what children can do.
The dancers aged 8-17 dance their hearts out in major cities around the world, in small towns throughout Appalachia and in major dance festivals. They dance for dignitaries and for the less privileged, and everywhere they dance they touch the hearts of all who see them.
TCDE has earned its reputation of “children helping children” throughout its outreach on behalf of other children’s charities, such as the International Museum of Children’s Art in Oslo, Norway and a Dance and the Child International Conference in Canada. TCDE will have an East Coast Tour in June to perform at school that were displaced or severely damaged by the storm Sandy. The tour will end with a residency in Newtown, Connecticut where the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred in December.
At home in Tennessee, TCDE dances annually for thousands of children and teachers. because performances provide the rare opportunity for children to see their peers excel in an art form. TCDE funds its own community Cultural Enrichment program, assuring that at risk children are able to see performances at free or reduced rates.
Wherever they go as goodwill ambassadors-whether in Tennessee, or halfway across the world – spirits are lifted, hearts are inspired, and Tennessee is made proud.
The Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble will hold its Annual Spring Concert at the Clarence Brown Theatre at UT on March 15th at 7:30 pm – $23 and March 16th at 2:00 pm – $20 and 7:30 pm – $23. There will be a school performance on Friday, March 15th at 9:30 am – $5 for children and adult chaperons are free. Senior group rates also are available. For more information call (865)584-9636 or email email@example.com. Visit the TCDE website at www.tcdedance.org
The Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization.