The annual production of "The Nutcracker" is a tradition for so many in Newton County, but it doesn't come cheap. Thanks to one girl's entrepreneurial spirit, and the junior ballet company's hard work, this year some of the older costumes have been replaced at a cost of about $1,100.
It all started with duct tape.
Dory Berry, 11, had been making crafts with duct tape for several years, ever since her best friend got her into it. While attending a meeting for the Covington Regional Ballet (of which she is a member), she heard that the Newton County Arts Association needed to raise money for new costumes for "The Nutcracker."
Dory broke out the duct tape.
"When Ms. Buncie [Lanners, executive director of the arts association] said we needed to raise the money I said ‘I make these bows and I want to raise the money,'" Dory said. "It caught on pretty quick."
Selling for $1-$2, the bows and her project, Bows for Ballet, spearheaded a craft explosion in the junior company of the ballet.
"One girl made earrings, two did a bake sale, one did T-shirt purses and the last one did necklaces and bracelets out of fabric," she said. "We all supported each other a lot. I wear my friend's necklace almost every day and I see people wearing my bows a lot. It's really cool. One day I saw all supported each other a lot. I wear my friend's necklace almost every day and I see people wearing my bows a lot. It's really cool. One day I saw this little girl in Scoops and I told her I made the bow she was wearing and she just smiled at me. It's really cool that people have recognized me for that," she said.
"As the Executive Director of the Arts Association, I think that nothing has energized me more in these economically challenging times than the zeal the Junior Company had for raising the money for the new Waltz of the Flowers costumes," said Lanners in an email. "Upon hearing that the organization could not afford these costumes for our Senior Company dancers, the Junior Company members put their creative heads together and began to plan fundraisers. They made T-shirt pocketbooks, handmade jewelry, baked goods and a new product, duct tape bows!
"At a summer concert on the square, they raised the seed money of approximately $400 for the new costumes. Out of this brainstorming and fundraiser was born Bows for Ballet, the brainchild of sixth grade dancer and Newton County Theme School student, Dory Berry. Dory's entrepreneurial and giving spirit, hours and hours of hard work at the dining room table, creative application of her ideas (Halloween bows, Christmas bows, Theme School bows, etc.) has been remarkable. She has taken her ‘show on the road' to fall festivals, PTO events, the Southern Heartland Christmas market and arts association events and has raised over $400 alone since the first fundraising event. Her enthusiasm for bringing us a check after a sales event for her is especially endearing."
Dory, who has been dancing since she was 3-years-old, said that the fact that people liked her idea was the most exciting part of the whole experience. She's enjoyed it so much, that she didn't stop fundraising when the money was raised. She has been raising money since fall, and continues to bring checks to the arts association.
"I think I will continue it for a really long time because of how much fun it is," Dory said. "I have encouraged other kids to get involved... I think it's really important to support the community you live in. You help so many people out, but you also help yourself too."
Dory's mother Jami said that this was a great opportunity to sit down with Dory and think things through in the process of deciding what she would make.
"It's always very gratifying when your child does something that benefits other people. It's been really neat to watch her grow through this process...It also gave us the opportunity to find something that was unique to her and to use that talent and that gift to help other people."
According to Lanners, the 15 costumes that were purchased to replace those that were roughly six years old were $73 each. The junior company as a whole raised $800 (11 costumes), and Dory continues to bring in money. The hope is to have the costumes all paid for by the end of the arts association's fiscal year in June. Dory was responsible for roughly half of the money raised.
"Truly," said Lanners, "this project by the Junior Company, who will not even wear these costumes for ‘The Nutcracker,' defines team, creativity and commitment. Dory's Bows for Ballet defines leadership, hard work and community spirit."