In today’s world, it is so easy to focus on the negatives and only look at the unfortunate events. I personally choose to look past the sadness and heartbreak for the little glimmer of hope and goodness that always follows a tragedy.
The dance world is a tight-knit community. This was made especially clear after the tragic shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Dancers from all around the world came together after the shooting to honor the life and memory of Jaime Guttenberg, one of the victims.
“Orange Ribbons for Jaime” is a movement that spread the weekend after the shooting, and it continues to grow. Orange was Jaime’s favorite color, so dancers all over donned orange ribbons, bows and clothing at rehearsals and competitions as a sign of remembrance and solidarity to honor the fallen dancer.
Jaime trained at Dance Theatre in Coral Springs, Fla., and was a member of the competitive DTX team. According to her aunt, Abbie Guttenberg Youkilis, she had dreams of being a mother and an occupational therapist one day. There is a GoFundMe page, gofundme.com/55msm4g, in Jaime’s honor, which is intended to raise funds to help spread awareness and address school safety issues.
Dance studios from nearly every state in the United States, including Oregon, Louisiana, Georgia, New York and Kentucky, posted photos of dancers wearing their ribbons on the Orange Ribbons for Jaime Facebook page.
The hashtag #OrangeRibbonsForJaime spread over Twitter. Miami Arts Charter School posted a photo of its dancers on Twitter, stating its support of Jaime. The Northwest Sidekicks, from Roanoke, Texas, and the Highland Sapphires, from Indiana, also posted photos in solidarity. #WeDanceForParkland was another popular tag used to spread the love and support.
It wasn’t just private or local studios that joined the cause. Performers from the Broadway hit “Hamilton: An American Musical” posted a photo with their ribbons and condolences on Facebook. Even the American Ballet Theatre, New York, N.Y., and the cast of Serenade of the Seas, from the Royal Caribbean cruise line, had ribbons pinned to their costumes. Colorado Ballet, based in Denver, is currently performing “Romeo and Juliet.” The ballet’s photo, in addition to the orange ribbons, included the quote, “Let us remember that the only place for tragedy is on the stage, not in our schools.”
The love was also seen right here in the Lehigh Valley. The Moravian College Dance Company sported its orange ribbons at ballet rehearsals Feb. 19.
“Orange Ribbons for Jaime” spread out of the country as well. A dance company in Cuba and the Moray Dance studio in Scotland were among the hundreds of studios and dancers who added their photos to the Facebook page, which has more than 1,800 followers.
Cara Loughran, another victim from the Parkland shooting, studied at the Drake School of Irish Dance in Coral Springs, Fla. Some dancers, like those from the Celtic Irish Dance Academy in Los Angeles, Calif., added a purple ribbon to the orange in remembrance of Cara as well.
In times like these, we need to stand strong together to honor and remember those we’ve lost. It didn’t matter if you were a 5-year-old just learning how to dance or in a professional company — everyone in the community felt the loss and wanted to pay tribute to the memory of those lost souls.