Kathy Thomas, owner and director of En Pointe School of Dance, has many reasons to celebrate this year. She has enjoyed 35 years of teaching ballet, her school celebrates its 25th year of successfully teaching Gwinnett area dancers and her performance company, Praise in Motion, marks its 20th anniversary. Most important of all, Thomas is joyfully back in the studio after defeating cancer this past year.
In celebration of all of this accomplishment and history, Praise in Motion will present its 20th anniversary concert on Saturday at Southern Polytechnic University in the Joe "Mac" Wilson Student Center. Performances will be given at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
The En Pointe School of Dance studios are located in the Lilburn Square Shopping Center. Thomas taught in the studio while it was under different management and after taking a hiatus to raise her family, decided to return to the profession with a school of her own. To her delight, the original studios were available for rent. Thomas returned to teaching right where she had started.
"The fact that this studio was 'meant to be' became clear almost immediately," Thomas said. "Many of my former students returned to train, and with my longtime friend Rhonda Oltjenbruns, we launched Praise in Motion five years later."
Thomas was a Ford Foundation Scholarship student at the National Ballet of Washington and also studied at the Atlanta Ballet.
However, Thomas' mission for Praise in Motion was not to create the usual type of preprofessional dance company. Her love of people and strong Christian values dictated that her mission be to train dancers for the purpose of presenting the Gospel through dance, winning souls to Christ and restoring the arts in the church.
Liturgical dance is a relatively recent practice in the West, being virtually unknown until the 20th century. Today, liturgical dance has found a foothold in the U.S. and continues to grow. Praise in Motion has been a focal point of this movement in the Atlanta area.
Praise in Motion gives two concerts per year and participates in many other invitational performances around the state. It frequently works with agencies and other nonprofits to raise awareness for life-giving causes. It has worked with the Atlanta Food Bank/Hunger Walk and The Salvation Army. Most recently, Praise in Motion choreographed an original work for Wellspring Living to help raise awareness of the cause of ending human trafficking.
Many Praise in Motion performers are also dance teachers. While dancers have a strong background in classical ballet and exposure to many other forms of dance, they have to go a little further to be accepted into the company. At the yearly audition process, dancers are required to write an essay about why they desire to use their talents to glorify God rather than for their own self-glory.
To find out more about En Pointe School of Dance and Praise in Motion, visit the websites www.enpointeschoolofdance.com or www.praiseinmotion.org or contact Thomas at 770-381-5787.
Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.