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Fundraising underway to send tiny dancer to L.A. training

Yvette OrozcoMay 23, 2019

Ten-year-old Bethany Rodriguez already knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

She wants to be a professional dancer — hip hop, contemporary, jazz, maybe a little ballet sprinkled in — and maybe someday own her own dance studio.

Rodriguez, a student at Jamison Middle School in Pearland, has been performing in competitive dance since she was 5, and she recently got the chance of her young lifetime.

It all started with an audition, but this was no ordinary audition.

As her mother, Monica Rodriguez, tells it, one of Rodriguez’ dance instructors suggested she try out for a spot in a selective summer program at the nonprofit Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles in July. In January, Bethany was part of a two-hour audition process at the Houston Ballet. Two weeks later, she got the email.

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“I literally screamed at the top of my lungs,” Bethany says.

There was an obstacle. Tuition costs $2,000, and additional costs would include temporary living arrangements, costuming and air fare.

In early April, an aunt started a GoFundMe account, which had raised a little over $400 by early May, with a June deadline to come up with the money.

Rodriguez said some local businesses indicated they are willing to help with a fundraiser.

“This would mean so much to her (Bethany) and to our family,” said Rodriguez, a single mom who works part-time because of health issues. “This is what she has chosen for her career.”

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The Debbie Allen Dance Academy Summer Intensive would a valuable learning experience for Bethany, according to Crystal Wooley, one of the youngster’s dance instructors at Divine Dance Academy in Pearland.

“It’s huge because it shows a student willing to go above and beyond,” Wooley said. “Some of the things they look for (at auditions) are technique, showmanship, confidence and being able to get out there and not crumble under pressure.”

Attempts to contact the academy were unsuccessful.

“It would mean a lot just for her individually for her goals and wants she wants to do for her career, and it would mean so much for the rest of us to see her happy, to see all her hard work will be worth it,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said Bethany understands that money could be a hindrance to her making the trip.

“She is prepared for that, but she is just so excited for the possibility and the opportunity to learn, and the connections she can make with other dancers and Debbie Allen, are just priceless.”

According to her mother, dancing has been one way in which Bethany has dealt with difficult times.

“Bethany is a smart firecracker — small but fierce,” Wooley said.

Bethany loves hip hop and contemporary because of its more freestyle movement.

“I can just feel the music and dance,” she said.


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