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The music, the mirror and a chance to dance

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By Brian Garner

A lyric from one of the songs from the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line” goes: ‘All I ever needed was the music and the mirror and the chance to dance for you.’

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Ten-year-old A’Zariyah Boyd of Chester has the music and the mirror, and now she has a chance to dance for dance superstar, teacher and choreographer Debbie Allen. A’Zariyah has never had any formal dance training. That’s about to change.

A’Zariyah, a student at Chester Park School of Inquiry,  was one of the kids who attended the “Dance Free Day” recently at the Brainerd Institute in Chester. She caught the eye of dance superstar, teacher and choreographer Debbie Allen, who was putting on the dance event as part of and a way to promote her mother Dr. Vivian Ayers’ “Workshops in Open Fields.”

Allen saw that A’Zariyah had potential, so much so that she offered her a scholarship to the Debbie Allen Dance Academy (DADA) in L.A. for an intensive dance training session in July.

The N&R caught up with A’Zariyah and her guardian, grandmother Annette Moore the day that A’Zariyah attended cheer camp at Chester Middle School.

A’Zariyah said of the two-day dance workshop at Brainerd, “It was fun, but at the same time you had to be disciplined and serious,” she said.

A’Zariyah said Allen offered her a “full-ride” scholarship out of the 60-some kids who were at the Dance Free Day event that day.

A’Zariyah’s grandmother Annette Moore said what is called intensive dance training will last the month of July and the scholarship covers housing, tuition, meals and other activities.

“I haven’t had any dance training at all,” A’Zariyah confessed. “My grandmother spoke to Mrs. Allen and said ‘A’Zariyah dances in front of the mirror all the time.’

The young dancer said during the dance training, she followed in the footsteps of Allen (literally).

“I just tried my best. I didn’t really know that Debbie Allen was paying attention to me; I thought we were just dancing. I tried my best and tried to follow her footsteps, and if I didn’t understand the movement, I just stopped for a minute, looked at how she was doing it and then I repeated it,” A’Zariyah said.

It was that deliberation and attention to detail as well as her potential that impressed Allen.

“I didn’t know that Allen was observing the children as closely as she did,” said Annette Moore.

Moore said Allen told her she saw a lot of potential in A’Zariyah and was impressed with the ten-year- old’s potential.

“She said A’Zariyah caught on easily and said she was focused and very flexible,” Moore said.

A’Zariyah said she knew who Debbie Allen was because of her sister, Phylicia Rashad and her appearance on “The Cosby Show.”

The scholarship and maybe an introduction to a future in dance is waiting for A’Zariyah in L.A. Now she just has to get to it.

The family is working to raise funds for the flight to California to Allen’s dance academy. A’Zariyah and her grandmother sent out letters to some area churches telling of this incredible opportunity.

In order for A’Zariyah to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, the letter reads: ‘We need your help financially. I live with my grandmother who is disabled, and raising me. I must have an adult to escort me to check in at the academy and during orientation. We need help with the cost of our flights, hotel and rental car. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and you would be helping in making my dream come true!’

With the help of family friend Tabatha Strother, the pair has also started a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $2,500. The address of the page is: https://www.gofundme.com/a039zariyah039s-dance-trip

A’Zariyah needs to be in L.A. by June 30 for orientation. Checks or money orders payable to Annette Moore can be sent to their address by June 20: c/o Annette Moore, 837 Meadow Brook Road, Chester, S.C. 29706.

Strother also recorded a Facebook Live video about this amazing opportunity.