A Fresh Face


Photo from Brooke Terry

Lisi Levy, Page Editor

Long legs stretching across the dance floor. Perfectly pointed feet, defined muscles and a smile nobody can resist. Freshman Brooke Terry is a vision of passion when she is dancing.

On Oct. 31, Terry visited Washington D.C. to represent St. Louis’ own Center of Creative Arts (COCA) at the National Council of the Arts. This meeting, hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), convenes three times a year to decide on funding and grants for numerous arts organizations across the nation. Additionally, the chairmen of the board and even members of the general public hear from several presenters who make artistic differences in their communities and are potential receivers of grants to continue their work. Out of the near 2,000 dance students that COCA works with, Terry was chosen to present.

Terry, only 14, has been dancing with COCA since the age of 10 and currently dances about 19 hours a week. She dances with the first company of both COCA’s Hip Hop Crew and COCA Dance company, and she is a member of the pre-professional division at COCA. First company members are those who are at the top of their game, the best of their classes and the pre-pro division is the equivalent to gifted program for dancers. Practicing modern, ballet, jazz, musical theater, tap and hip hop, Terry stands out in a crowd.

COCA was looking at their student body for a student they believed represented their organization with exuberance and passion.

“Brooke is an ideal student,” Kelly Ging, a teacher and artistic coordinator for COCA Dance Company, said. “She gets neglected a lot and because she does everything just humbly and doesn’t need the credit, she never gets the credit.”

Ging describes Terry as a role model for her work ethic, both as a student and as a person. “She is just a really stand-out … dedicated and kind person,” she said.

Terry not only dances like a pro, but she is a young leader. She has an outlet for her creativity while staying on top of school work and maintaining high A’s and B’s in all of her classes. Not to mention, she is very comfortable in front of an audience and has great public speaking skills. Brooke had no script or pre-written speech given to her at the conference; she went up and spoke from the heart.

“The people that were chairmen of the NEA, it was really easy talking to them…they were very accepting of what I had to say,” Terry explained. “There was one guy who was a peach farmer in California,” she recounted. “He was really funny and the night before, he took a picture with me and said, ‘Oh let me get a picture with you, before you become famous.”

Terry never thought coming to COCA would help her find herself and her place. “I’ve realized what I want to do with my life as a dancer,” she said.

“[The most valuable thing about my experience was] being able to spend time with very influential people…also being able to share my experience with COCA and how…life changing it has been,” Terry said. “A lot of people ask me why [I dance]…but it’s not even a want anymore it’s a need.”