Ballerina Honors Fellow Student Diagnosed with Cancer During Competition
Anna Mott, 16, is a Gwinnett teen and GBT dancer since the age of 3. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor last year.
Ten Gwinnett Ballet Theatre dancers took part in the Youth America Grand Prix southeastern semi-finals this past weekend, March 1-3. Recognition, great experience and lovely memories of the competition will follow the young women as they continue their lives full of studies, dance classes and social events.
Two of the dancers, Abigrace Diprima and Madison Greene, finished in the top 12 of their age groups and were invited to continue the YAGP experience in New York City in April. For Madison, the weekend had a further meaning than her individual success. She was by herself onstage for her competition variation, but she did not dance alone.
Anna Mott, 16, is a Gwinnett teen and GBT dancer since the age of 3. Late in August last year, Anna was diagnosed with a pineoblastoma, a rare malignant brain tumor. She has been valiantly fighting the disease ever since with the support of her ballerina buddies and hundreds of well wishers from the Gwinnett and greater Atlanta communities.
Madison, 13 and a student at Crews Middle School, planned to perform a variation from the first act of the ballet “Giselle” as her YAGP competition piece.
“During Nutcracker this past year, a lot of the girls put Anna’s initials in their shoes," she said. "I wanted to keep doing that for her. I put her initials in my shoes for YAGP because when I did, it felt like I had someone else on the stage with me. I was dancing for Anna. I also said a prayer that I could perform well and show both Anna’s and my own love for dance. I know that she would have loved to be there, so for now I’ll just keep her with me in spirit.”
Madison put Anna’s name in her pointe shoes in purple with little hearts around the letters.
Her mother, Sharon Greene, added, “She told me she prayed that she would dance joyfully for Anna. She felt Anna was on stage with her.”
Madison was one of approximately 160 dancers in the Junior age group at YAGP. Her performance was judged to be one of the 12 most excellent in this age group in the classical division, and she has been invited to New York City to participate in the YAGP Finals in April.
“She said she would definitely do the same to her pointe shoes in New York,” her mother said.
Madison was not the only GBT dancer who won special recognition at YAGP. Abigrace Diprima, 17, was in the Senior age group and was top 12 in both the contemporary and the classical ballet divisions. Bianca Melidor, 16, finished in the top 24 in the Senior classical ballet division.
All ten of GBT’s YAGP competitors under the direction of GBT Artistic Director Wade Walthall, were warmly received and well scored. The additional 7 participants were Claire Bockhop, Kendall Greene, Kenzie Martin, Nichole Polakowski, Cameron and Jordan Silas, and Madeline Whitehead.
Anna’s family continues to be held in a special place in the hearts of GBT’s dancers, parents and staff. If you wish to support Anna, visit the Amanda Riley Foundation on Facebook and consider participating in their event “Miles for Smiles” road race on June 8. However, running shoes are recommended over pointe shoes for this particular event.
(Editor's note: this information was provided by Gwinnett Ballet Theatre.)