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Locust Grove ballerina
headed to New York


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor   

  For some girls, tuning 13 might mean a new cell phone or a new wardrobe or a party with friends, but for Locust Grove resident, Chaise Gabrielle Jones, it meant an invitation the prestigious Dance Theater of Harlem in New York for a summer internship.

Chaise Jones, showing her flexibility and grace at the Gift of Dance studio, where she has studied ballet since she was six years old.                                      Photo by Melissa Robinson

  It was earlier this month that Jones received the news that she was chosen to participate in the dance company’s summer program, only three weeks after she auditioned in East Point. It was her dance teacher, Keila Harvey, owner of Gift of Dance Studio in McDonough, who encouraged her to audition after seeing a posting on Facebook that the Dance Theater of Harlem was visiting various cities to hold auditions.

  “I, along with all of her teachers, know that Chaise has a gift and potential to make it professionally,” said Harvey.

  According to her ballet teacher, the audition in East Point was the first time Jones had ever auditioned, and making it into the Dance Theater of Harlem on the first try is rare.

  “She will be spending about four weeks in Harlem training at this historic dance company, which also serves as an audition for apprenticeship with their junior company and school,” said Harvey.

  Harvey said that Jones is one of the most talented dancers she has ever taught and her intelligence allows her to pick up quickly on instruction.

  According to dad, Kelvin, his daughter is an all "A" student at Luella Middle School and said as long as any of his children bring home the grades, he and his wife Myla are happy to support their extracurricular activities.

  “It is a commitment but we demand excellence in our home, so if they produce the grades, they are able to do the extracurricular things they want to do. She’s been an ‘A’ student since she started school,” said Kelvin. “We’re very proud of all her accomplishments.”

  Jones said she has been dancing since she was five years old, first at a dance school in Macon and then at Gift of Dance when her family moved to Henry County. She takes ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz and lyrical and is on dance competition team.

  She trains one to two hours a day. Tall and lean, she looks like a ballerina but said she has a healthy appetite.

  “I eat a lot, and my friends always laugh about the fact that I eat so much but never gain weight,” she smiled.

  She said she was really nervous to audition for the Dance Theater of Harlem, especially because there were so many great dancers competing, but she said taking deep breaths and praying helped. She said her teachers also inspire her confidence.

  “The audition took about an hour and it was challenging because I knew they were looking for the best. I was very nervous and it was hard, but I tried to look confident,” she said.

  Her father said that his daughter has never been away from home and he and his wife plan to split the weeks to stay up in NYC to keep an eye on their only daughter.

  Her mother, Myla, said she is proud of her daughter when she watches her dance and is taken back to when she was born. Arriving nearly two months early, Myla said Chaise was a preemie, and doctors had to continually take blood from her feet to monitor her. When she finally came home from the hospital, her little feet were bruised and sensitive and she didn’t like for them to be touched.

  “When I think about her traumatic entrance, seeing her dance now and her enjoyment, it’s very humbling,” said Myla. “I look at all of my children as a blessing in the fact that they are healthy and can enjoy their activities.”

  Myla credits her daughter’s dance instructors for seeing her talent, even when it wasn’t evident to her.

  “Her teachers have always pushed her and challenged her to go to the next level and they saw something in her” said Myla. “They’re awesome teachers.”

  But Jones isn’t just a pretty face and talented dancer. With a strong affinity for science, she hopes to forge a career in medicine after her professional dance career is over.

  “My favorite subject in school is science because we get to do a lot of hands on experiments. I’d like to go on to study medicine some day, and be a doctor.”



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