This is the fifth article celebrating 25 years of DDD alumni and their accomplishments in dance and beyond. Alumni are sharing what they have been doing since graduation and how DDD has impacted their lives. The DDD family, past and present, appreciate all of the time, energy and efforts MISS JILLIAN and MR. ROB have given and continue to give to their students.
For those alumni who wish to share their story, please comment below. It is never too late to add to the Alumni Spotlight.
Thank you to all who contribute to Dancing and Beyond. Alumni are listed alphabetically as the only rule.
Caleigh Gilchrist, Class of 2010
Caleigh Gilchrist (formerly Nowlin) graduated in 2010 and danced for DDD for 15 years. She became a part of the FIRST Junior Elite team when she was about 10 years old and with each passing year, fell more in love with the art and the team. Caleigh has fantastic memories of the early days when dancers rehearsed at the studio in the back of the DuHadway family’s home, the old studio in Ithaca, and finally the exciting move to the new studio. Most of the sweetest memories from her young years are from the times at DDD and the lifelong friendships that were formed there.
Caleigh attended Michigan State University for 4 years where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Dance remained a strong part of her life, as she joined two dance teams (Orchesis and Impulse) and also began teaching at a local studio called Spartan Dance Center. Caleigh danced with Orchesis for one semester and Impulse for 4 years. She stayed in Lansing to work for 1.5 years after college graduation, while continuing to teach a variety of classes for both youth and adults at Spartan Dance Center.
Last year, Caleigh married an amazing man who she met on a cruise her senior year of high school – a cruise that she was on with friends from DDD. These girls are still some of her best friends and Libby Glaser was a bridesmaid in Caleigh’s wedding. Since then, Caleigh and her husband have moved to Singapore, where she is teaching jazz classes at a local Women’s Shelter. This has been an amazing way for Caleigh to share her passion for dance with women who are going through difficult times. For Caleigh, being able to see the smiles on their faces always remind her of the power of dance to bring healing and joy.
Caleigh says, “In addition to the unforgettable memories and bonds that developed at DDD, I have learned incredibly sound technique and skills that have benefited me at different stages of life. In college, they helped me make great friends and continue to enjoy performing and choreographing, as well as earn income to support myself. Now, they are enabling me to give back to my new community. My experiences at DDD taught me invaluable lessons about teamwork-supporting others at their best and their worst and experiencing their support as well. It also taught me the value of hard work. I’ll never forget the impact of DDD and Jillian’s coaching and friendship, specifically. She supported me though difficult stages of life, encouraged me when she know I had more to give, and rejoiced with me in times of accomplishment. I am forever grateful for DDD and, like many of my teammates have said, I don’t know where I’d be without it!!
This picture is from when the senior class of 2010 did ‘Operation Kidnap Miss Jillian’. We planned it out with Rob, went to her house to surprise her, and ‘kidnapped’ her for a whole day of activities we had planned. It was a great day and a wonderful memory.”
Kassidy Owen, Class of 2014
Kassidy is in entering her third year at Mid Michigan Community College. Until recently, Kassidy was undecided about her future career, but has now realized God has placed in her heart a love for old people and the desire to care for them.
After graduation, Kassidy did not formally pursue dance but still loves to dance, as dance will forever be in her heart. For her, dance helped her during her younger years come out of her shell, made her step out of her comfort zone, and found it a wonderful way to unwind from a stressful day.
Kassidy says, “I believe God used dance to inspire me to be a light for Him. Life has been challenging but with my faith in God, I have been doing things I would have never dreamed of doing, such as counseling and teaching little ones at my church camp. I even have the opportunity to teach a little bit of dance skill during this time.”
Faith, Dance, School. Kassidy’s faith in God has always been followed by dance. “When I danced, I could smile and laugh. I was not always able to do this, but dance taught me how to have fun. Now, every once in a while I will go into the studio and dance my heart out. Thank you Mr. Rob and Miss Jillian for opening your studio and sharing your love of dance. I never would have thought dance would have made such an impact in my life. I have made so many friends through dance. I feel so blessed and fortunate to have been able to have a dance family. I love you all so much. God bless.”
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 1), click here.
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 2), click here.
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 3), click here.
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 4), click here.
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 6), click here.
To read Dancing and Beyond (Part 7), click here.