Katherine Davis: Making Miracles Through Dance

Dancing has come fairly easily to Katherine Davis, who took her first lesson at the age of 5 at the Diane Moore
Dance Academy.

For almost two decades, the naturally gifted ballerina has studied nearly every form of the art with the exception of ballroom. While she’s experienced her fair share of success, Katherine also felt the desire to help others learn and enjoy her favorite pastime. In 2006, she joined Diane Moore Dance Academy’s teaching staff, helping with several classes, including the Miracle Dancers, a group of students with varying types of special needs. Becoming part of the team has been rewarding for Katherine, who’s watched several of the children overcome personal obstacles to excel at jazz, ballet and clogging, becoming crowd-favorites for audiences throughout the city.

The Voice-Tribune caught up with Katherine to learn more about her experience with Diane Moore Dance Academy and the Miracle Dancers, who will perform Dec. 15 at the Fern Creek Fire Department.

When were the Miracle Dancers formed?

I believe this is the 20th year. The group has been growing for quite a while. It had been small for a while, and right when I got involved it was really starting to grow.

How did you become involved with the group?

Miss Diane (Chambers, the owner) had asked a few of the older dancers at the time if anyone would be interested in helping with the group, and I had always been interested in the Miracle Dancers and always liked watching them perform.

How many students are on the Miracle Dancers? 

Between 50 and 60.

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune

Photo by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune

What type of dance do you teach them?

They do jazz and lyrical. It’s kind of a mix of jazz and ballet. They also do clogging and vocal (performance).

We mostly teach the class as one unit. Typically we have two teachers in each class, so one will often teach as a standing dancer, while the other teaches as a dancer using a wheelchair. We try to teach each child how to work with their body and make the most of their abilities.

What do you find is the best approach in teaching the Miracle Dancers?

One of the easiest ways to teach someone how to dance in a wheelchair is to get in a wheelchair. … We’ll actually get in the chairs to try to understand how (the kids) move. … Sometimes you’ll have to ask a student how something will work for them or get in a chair and try it yourself. We just see what the kids can do.

How often do the Miracle Dancers perform?

Usually throughout November and December we have around 12 performances, and in spring, anywhere from six to 10.

What do you love most about working with the Miracle Dancers?

Really the most fun part about it is being able to teach someone how to do something that I love. … It’s really exciting to be able to teach someone who’s maybe been told they can’t do it that they really can dance.

Do you teach other classes outside of the Miracle Dancers?

I’m involved in a few other classes. I have a group of 5-year-olds who do ballet and tap, and a big ballet class with (6- through 9-year-olds).

Kelby Auten, Heather Stengel and Katherine Davis.

Kelby Auten, Heather Stengel and Katherine Davis.

Do you still perform on your own?

I actually do perform with the Miracle Dancers, and (I) also have a small group that’s (made up of) me and one of my other good friends who’s a ballet dancer and a close friend who’s in a wheelchair.

What is your ultimate goal with dancing?

I really just like what I’m doing now. I like working with the Miracle Dancers as far as teaching at the studio. I’m really happy with what I’m doing now, so as long as I can do that, and it continues to grow … and we’re able to take (every single) kid who wants to dance. … That’s really my goal.

The Miracle Dancers will perform in a Christmas showcase with Diane Moore Dance Academy on Dec. 15 at Fern Creek Fire Department, 6200 Bardstown Road. 

The event is free, but donations are appreciated for the Miracle Dancer Scholarship Foundation. Sugar and Spice Donut Shop will be selling donuts and coffee at the event to benefit the Miracle Dancers as well.