Madi Thompson’s dad had her pegged from the time she was 2 years old.
“My aunt was a dancer,” Madi explains. “My dad noticed that I was sharing some of the same traits as his sister. He thought I should try it out.”
So Daryl and Carey Thompson enrolled their daughter in Abilene Ballet Theatre at 2 ½ years old, and as it turns out, dad was right.
Madi excelled at dancing. Now, 16 years later, she danced the lead role in the Abilene Ballet Theatre’s annual presentation of the Nutcracker in November. Madi was the Sugar Plum Fairy.
“I was really excited about it,” Madi said of earning the role. “It’s a huge honor. A lot of times, they get a professional, so it’s an amazing thing to get to do it.”
Madi, a Wylie senior, has danced in the Nutcracker for 13 years.
“The very first role was a star,” she said. “I’ve moved all the way up to the Sugar Plum Fairy. My first solo was in 2010. I was the mechanical doll.”
She has also been Clara, the snow queen, the peacock and a mouse, among other roles. Plus, she has played a variety of roles in other productions and participated in several summer intensives, where she spends three to five weeks dancing all day long.
But in 2011, dancing became more than just a hobby for Madi. It became therapy.
In 2011, when she was only 12, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“That’s probably the hardest time of my life,” Madi said. “Dance honestly got me through that. It’s a way of escaping.”
Madi said her friends and the directors at Abilene Ballet Theatre were also there for her during that difficult time.
“We are like a family,” she said. “I was scared. I was really worried. Without dance I don’t think I could have made it through that.”
Madi’s mother is now in remission, but Madi said the experience changed her.
“I value my time with my family and friends now,” she said. “I appreciate the little things. It changed my faith. I believe strongly that the Lord took control of that situation.”
It also gave Madi a desire to use dance to help other people. She plans to attend TCU next fall and major in social work and dance. She has been accepted into TCU’s School for Classical and Contemporary Dance.
“I want to create a program based on dance therapy,” she said. “When you are dancing, your mind goes into a different arena. It helps overcome things that hurt. It just helps you.”
Madi said her own experience of using dance as therapy during her mother’s cancer battle will give her a unique perspective when helping others, she said.
“I think a lot of times, when families go through something like that, children and spouses are ignored,” she said. “No one really asked me if I was OK. I want to help people get through those kinds of things. It’s a whole family ordeal.”
Inspite of the long hours spent rehearsing for the Nutcracker, Madi has stayed active at school. She is in Student Council and the Student-to-Student Ministry and makes straight As. She also danced with the Belles until this year.
“I loved it, I just realized I couldn’t do it anymore,” she said. “I can’t put myself into too many baskets.”
Now that her performance as the Sugar Plum Fairy is over, Madi turns her attention to the Regional Dance America/Southwest Festival in March, where she has been chosen to dance and also is doing some choreography as an emerging choreographer.
Once she graduates in May, she will go straight into college dance.
Apparently her dad was right on target when deciding to put her into ballet all those years ago. Madi said she tried other things, but always kept coming back to dance.
“I’ve tried everything else,” she said. “I’ve tried tennis. I just love dancing. It’s a challenge. There’s always something to improve on. Life’s like that too. There are always goals to strive for. I just never found anything else.”