“Ashley Van Vurst had always said, ‘Jenni, wouldn’t it be great if you and I could take ballet lessons?’” said Jenni Samuel of Goshen. “And I would always say, ‘Sure, Ashley, if you find a place that would do ballet lessons for people our age, I would do ballet lessons.’”
When Ashley’s mom passed away and Nick and Charity Boyd became her guardians, Ashley was placed in a semi-independent living program that was run by Goldenrod at that time and is now administered by ADEC.
“Ashley mentioned to them how she wanted to do these ballet classes,” Jenni said. “Part of Godenrod’s philosophy was to try to find those things in the community for adults with disabilities to be able to participate in. They took that very seriously.”
Contact was made with Stephanie Honderich, owner of Goshen’s GoDance Studio, and she got the adult ballet class started.
“I took ballet when I was 6 and I just decided to do ballet again,” Ashley said. In contrast, Jenni had never taken a dance class before in her life.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect, and it was a little intimidating at first,” she said. “At first, I thought it was just going to be Ashley and I, almost like private lessons. And then when we got to the first lesson, there were other people there and I was like, ‘Oh, this is really like a true community class.’ But we’re all just learning and it’s all for fun. So we just kind of rolled with it, and we keep rolling.”
Ashley and Jenni have taken ballet classes with a few different instructors. Their current teacher is Tinsley Yoder, a junior at Bethany Christian High School. Tinsley has been taking ballet classes since age 5 and teaching at GoDance since January. She also teaches 3-year-olds at another studio.
“They have been in my class ever since I started at GoDance,” Tinsley said of Ashley and Jenni. “I think they are the only two students who have remained the same throughout the whole year. They’re pretty good!”
And Ashley feels pretty good about her instructor, too.
“Tinsley is the sweetest girl,” Ashley said. “She has the best smile!”
Writing, editing, and photography by Scott Weisser and Neil King
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