One evening, my best friend invited me to come with her and her mom to Jersey Gardens Mall to see a dance performance. Little did I know that this event was about to be the pivot point in my life. It was a performance done by The Taylor Dance Company, founder M.A. Taylor, who blew me away. I went to him after the show, my friend's mom and him were high school friends, I said "I want to dance for your company, I want to be on stage with you". He looked, gave you that Taylor "eye raise" and said, "if you're serious come to Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts and take class". So I got home, sat on my grandparents' bed and said I wanted to go there and DANCE. My parents being as supportive as they knew how to a little overweight boy said, "Ok". That Friday, my grandfather brought me to a studio, on Bloomfield Avenue, where I paid per class and studied with his company at SMAPA. I was surrounded by an establishment that truly believed in the development of the young artist, a place where I soon called home. Shortly after coming for about two months or so, I approached the owner Sharron Miller, to join the Performance Workshop Ensemble and she said yes. That yes included a full scholarship to the school with performance opportunities. Grateful beyond measures, I showed up everyday, taking the NJ Transit Bus from school to the Academy. Ballet at 4, Jazz at 8, modern, Hip-Hop, African and Floor Barre. There was a class everyday and I made sure I was in there. I mean you know what they say "Practice makes almost perfect" and I couldn't agree with that anymore than I do NOW.
Sharron taught me, as well as a host of young artists, the dream we see can be real with hard work and dedication. Now almost 10 years later, 100lbs lighter, 4 Broadway shows under my belt, my own business, and happiness that I can't even describe. I often wonder what would have happened had this woman never took a chance on me and never believed in me. Words can't express the gratitude that I have towards you Sharron. You implemented life skills that can't be taught in a book but through WISDOM.
I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU!
Live, Love, & Thrive
Mykal D Laury
Dear Sharron Miller, fellow PWE alumnus, and the entire SMAPA community:
This is such a special day for me even though I cannot attend the ceremony. I am lucky to be completing part of my undergraduate degree in Pretoria, South Africa, studying Entrepreneurship and Psychology. While I have chosen not to pursue a career in dance, the time I spent with SMAPA (particularly as part of the PWE) has impacted my life in countless, indescribable ways. I became lifelong friends with some of the most genuine people I have ever encountered through hours of training each day. I gained a level of discipline that goes unmatched by my peers and coworkers. I learned what it means to be confident, graceful, passionate, and how to express myself wholeheartedly. My SMAPA experiences awarded me with the openness and fearlessness to pursue my dreams in life, which is how I ended up in South Africa. PWE is unique in that it drew out my individuality while simultaneously weaving me into a cohesive whole. I have so much gratitude and love for the SMAPA community. I owe so much of my present and future happiness to dance. I still love to dance for the sheer joy it brings, for the stress release, and for the sake of memories. Thank you so much for this honor, and for helping to welcome young people like myself into the world of dance.
With love and thanks,
I'd like to start by saying that the dance foundation you have provided me with has certainly served me well in college. However, I have not only been blessed to receive professional dance training; you have taught me what it means to be dedicated and passionate about what I love. I genuinely miss you, your staff, my peer dancers, and the SMAPA community. My parents will be attending your Holiday Fun-raiser! I wish I could be there too! I was actually thinking that maybe this year we could gather PWE alumni and put something together for the June concert!
Sharron, can you believe I'm a junior now!? Time has flown by! I am at that point in my college education that I need to experience internships and prepare for graduate school. I am currently in the final part of my application process at Brain Balance Achievement Centers in Summit, a facility that takes a therapeutic approach to help children with developmental deficits reach their full potential to learn academically, socially and emotionally with sensory motor exercises, cognitive activities and nutritional guidance. As a neuroscientist anddancer, this organization embodies what I would like to pursue. From what I understand, they were pleased with my resume and interview and they ask now for references of influential people in my life to speak on behalf of my work ethic. I would be honored if I could provide your name and phone number, Sharron, to speak about my character. This would mean a lot to me.
Sincerely I Thank You,