Cancer Survivor is the 2018 ‘Dancer for A Day’ for A Colorado Nutcracker
Colorado Ballet Society and the Colorado Youth Ballet, announce Grace Davis as the featured Dancer for A Day in the 2018 production of A Colorado Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center in four performances on Saturday, December 22, at 2pm & 7pm; and Sunday, December 23, 2018, at 1pm and 5pm.
“Grace is an inspiring and perfect representative for all children facing life-threatening medical challenges,” says Ballet Society and Youth Ballet founder and director, Patricia Hoffman. “Besides being a gifted dancer and performer, Grace is a determined and compassionate soul who really wants to encourage other children facing difficult life challenges.”
“Grace was diagnosed with Pre-B Accute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when she was five and a half, right after starting kindergarten,” shares her mother, Jennifer Davis. “She underwent chemotherapy for two and a half years. She finished chemo treatments at age eight. It took a year for her body to recover and then she started ballet at age nine. This January she will be six years ‘Off Treatment’ and is doing great! The best part about having Grace featured as the 2018 Nutcracker Dancer of the Day is that she can be both a representative and a role model for those kids who are still going through chemotherapy or other painful and scary procedures. There have been many advancements in fighting pediatric cancer but still limited research and support regarding a pediatric survivor’s life after treatment. When Grace started dancing she tried to find other ballerinas who survived pediatric cancer as a source of inspiration but could not. She hopes to be that inspiration for someone else going through what she went through.”
Pediatric Oncologists use the terms “Off Treatment” or NED (No Evidence of Disease) instead of cured.
“One Christmas Eve, I spent the entire night in the Emergency Room because I had a fever over 100.4 degrees,” shares Grace. “When you are a cancer patient, if your fever is past a certain degree, you have to go to the ER. That year, I experienced how terrible it was to be in the hospital during a holiday. This inspired me to create a toy drive for children receiving medical treatment through the holidays, because even the smallest thing can really brighten your day when you are in the hospital, especially gifts!”
In total, Grace spent three holiday seasons receiving treatments.
“Previous year’s Dancers for A Day have been children featured in cameo appearances,” shares Hoffman. “Because Grace was already cast as Clara before we approached her about being our Dancer for A Day, she requested that rather than enjoying the ‘celebrity status’ perks in her Dancer for A Day role, she asked permission to organize a toy drive at the studio for new donated gifts to be given to children receiving medical treatment at Urgent Care/Briargate Office and Inpatient Unit and the CCBD/Infusion Unit at Briargate facilities over the holidays.”
Families at Colorado Ballet Society have been donating new unwrapped gifts for children of all ages to be distributed over the Christmas season.
“The most significant challenge of having your child receive medical treatments or battle a life-threatening illness during the holidays is wondering if it will be the last Christmas you will have with them,” shares Jennifer. “If the prognosis is good, you calm your initial fears, and focus on how to make the holidays magical and wondrous despite uncomfortable clinic procedures, hospital stays, and even quarantine from extended family. Grace feels it is a great honor to be the Dancer for a Day and wants to encourage those who are fighting their battles to not lose hope.”
Now in its eighth year, the ‘Nutcracker Dancer for A Day’ program was instituted in 2010 by Ballet Society student and Colorado Youth Ballet member, Hannah (Olson) Diener, as her senior project at Pine Creeks HS. Its mission is to provide for a child battling a life-threatening illness to be able to experience the joy of being part of the Nutcracker cast. The Nutcracker Dancer for A Day program received an Award in 2012 from the Arts/Business/Education Consortium (ABE).
Grace wants to encourage all children undergoing life threatening medical treatments this holiday season with the message that there is life after medical diagnosis and treatments and it can be beautiful.
“I started taking ballet classes when I was nine, after having completed my cancer battle. I was behind others in my age group by a LOT. So, I started working hard to become a better dancer and I dreamed of when I would catch up. I watched a family friend play the part of Clara on the stage at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque, NM, and I immediately knew I wanted to dance that part someday and inspire others too. I strengthened and stretched as much as possible because cancer treatments are known to cause a decrease in flexibility and strength. Finally, after years of hard work, this year I was cast in the role of Clara! This has inspired me to push past the difficulties of being a cancer survivor: all of the PTSD, processing speed slowness, neuropathy, and more. Most of all, I feel it has given me the opportunity to inspire and encourage others who are growing through hard and difficult times. Life is about inspiring, blessing, and uplifting others.”
“Please come see Colorado Youth Ballet’s A Colorado Nutcracker on December 22nd and 23rd at the Pikes Peak Center,” Grace implores. “It’s a beautiful, fun, and festive Colorado-inspired Christmas story you won’t want to miss, and I have the honor of dancing in the role of Clara on the 22nd at 7pm and the 23rd at 1pm; and my good friend Ashley Campbell will be featured as Clara in the Saturday 2pm and Sunday 5pm performances!”
Who: Colorado Youth Ballet and Colorado Ballet Society with professional dancers and performers
What: A Colorado Nutcracker - features 170 local dancers,60 musicians from the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, and vocalists from the CS Children’s Chorale
When: Saturday, December 22, at 2pm & 7pm; Sunday, December 23, at 1pm & 5pm
Where: Pikes Peak Center ~ 190 South Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs
Tickets: $18 to $46 Tickets can be purchased in person at the Pikes Peak Center and Broadmoor World Arena Box Offices; over the phone at 888-929-7849; or online
Figure 1: A Colorado Nutcracker rehearsal with Grace Davis (Clara) as the 2018 Dancer for A Day Photo by: Kayla Coburn
Figure 2: A Colorado Nutcracker features Grace Davis (Clara) as the 2018 Dancer for A Day pictured here with Jared Guest (Nutcracker Prince)Photo by: Kayla Coburn
Figure 3: Grace Davis and Ashley Campbell cast as the2018 A Colorado Nutcracker ‘Claras’
Figure 4: Battle Scene Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography
Figures 5-7: by Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography