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  • Words by Stacey Bowers / Photos by Aaron Brewer

Plié-ing it Forward

A dancer since she was 8 years old, Amy Bramlett knew she wanted to pursue dance when she graduated high school, but she wasn’t quite so sure about finding the money to do so, especially since her heart was set on studying at Texas Christian University (TCU), a private university. Being one of four kids, Amy knew that her parents footing the bill was out of the question. She would have to realize her goals on her own.

In 2007, as a graduating senior at Hot Springs High School, Amy signed up to compete in Thea Foundation’s performing arts scholarship competition, where she won $2,000 for placing 7th in the competition. The scholarship wasn’t enough to pay her way in full, but it would certainly help pay for her freshman year, and with new confidence from winning a Thea scholarship, Amy took the chance and enrolled at TCU. “While the Thea Foundation may have been just for my freshman year, it helped me take that step to TCU, and then I continued to work hard to receive other financial help,” Amy said. “It was a push in my confidence that other people believed in my dream, so I must work and do everything I can in order to make it come true… During my freshman year, I received the Nordan Fine Arts Scholarship, which is the biggest scholarship offered at TCU to fine art majors.”

Amy earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in ballet and contemporary dance and completed coursework in educational studies. Then, she traveled the world dancing. She danced with Young! Tanzsommer, touring Austria, Germany and Italy; she performed for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for a year and Princess Cruise Lines for two years as a featured dancer; and she’s proud of the work she’s done in her home state as a guest performing artist for Hot Springs Children's Dance Theatre Co., North Arkansas Dance Theatre and Ballet Arkansas. She's also a candidate for a Master of Arts degree in dance education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, choreographer for the Muses Creative Artistry Project in Hot Springs, and an Artist in Education with the Arkansas Arts Council.

Amy brought her talent back to her hometown in 2013 and became the dance director at Hot Springs High School and Hot Spring Middle School, where she teaches dance to around 150 students and undoubtedly instills in them the values and principals she learned from dancing. “Because of dance, I missed Halloween nights, football games, playing baseball and spending evenings at home. I wouldn't change it for the world,” she said. “Dance taught me dedication and confidence. It taught me that I should always be a student with an open mind, and that consistent training would lead to moments on stage and off where I knew exactly the kind of person I was and the person I want to be. Dance gave me the confidence to be my individual self as an adolescent, a sometimes difficult thing to have as an adolescent. Dance humbled me to be a student for a lifetime of critiques and learning and gave me the opportunity to be an international performing artist. Dance is the way I breathe, express myself, communicate with others who I am and spread the art of movement to anyone that will listen or watch.”

Since 2002, Thea Foundation has awarded more than $2 million to Arkansas students through its scholarship program. Each year, 30 scholarships totaling $79,500 are awarded in the categories of performing arts, visual arts, fashion design, poetry slam, film and creative writing, and that’s just the amount Thea awards; Thea partners with 27 colleges and institutions across the state of Arkansas and the nation who promise to match or exceed Thea scholarships, often by tens of thousands of dollars.

Registration for Thea Foundation’s 2018 scholarship competitions is now open to Arkansas high school seniors. Click here to learn more about the competitions or to register.

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