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Celebrating Our People

Amy Burton dancing with award-winning youth development program, Moving in the Spirit

Amy Burton dancing with the award-winning youth development program, Moving in the Spirit, which she's working to bring to Starkville.

Cadence Associate Bringing Award-Winning Youth Development Program to Starkville

There are arrangements to make, grant applications to submit, meetings to arrange, money to raise. But Amy Zeger Burton has a vision for the summer of 2020, and she doesn’t plan on letting obstacles stand in her way.

 

Amy, a Senior Loan Assistant at Cadence Bank in Starkville, Mississippi, has spent much of her life in the world of dance. She earned a degree in modern dance and performed with multiple modern dance companies. For nearly 20 years, she was a part of the Atlanta-based Moving in the Spirit, a youth-based dance company that folds leadership, life skills, cognitive abilities and the importance of mentoring into its high-level dance instruction.

 

Amy now plans to bring the nationally renowned dance company to Starkville, to give workshops and performances in the community. She has seen first-hand the effect that dance can have on young people, empowering them to be confident, focused and goal-oriented, which is just the kind of magical experience she hopes to help create for her city in June 2020.

 

“Some of the best years of my life were spent with Moving in the Spirit,” Amy says. “I’ve seen how they can change children’s lives, and I want to share some of that magic with Starkville.”

 

Award-winning creative youth development program

 

Moving in the Spirit works year-round with young people in the Atlanta area. “Stepping Stones” is their youngest group, “Men in Motion” focuses on boys from 9-13, and “GLOW in Motion” does the same for girls from 9-12. And the “Apprentice Corporation” brings together teens ages 13-18; the best of these get to perform in the Atlanta community and have a chance to join the annual national tour. It is this group Amy is working to bring to Starkville.

 

In addition to its accomplishments in dance, the company has received many awards and honors. And the founders are proud of the fact that in the past 10 years, seniors in high school who are members of Moving in the Spirit have had a 100% graduation rate, and all have gone on to college, vocational training or military school.

 

But let’s get back to the dancers themselves.

 

“They have the greatest teachers and know all the latest moves,” Amy says. “I know the kids here would love to connect with their ‘big-city’ counterparts and share their love of dance. It’s the international, intergenerational, and interracial language, and it never gets old!”

 

A true collaborative effort

 

Amy’s done a lot of work to bring Moving in the Spirit’s annual tour to Starkville in 2020 (target date is June 10-12). She has collaborated with:

 

  • The mayor, to get the city on board (it is)
  • The parks and recreation department (which approved the use of the city’s multipurpose Sportsplex)
  • The head of the arts council (who encouraged her to apply for a grant)
  • The Greater Starkville Development Partnership (which oversees economic development, the chamber of commerce and tourism)

 

She is also working with the Homestead Education Center, which has a large house in the country that can accommodate the 8-10 dancers and three chaperones that will travel with the tour.

 

All in all, Amy will need to raise a total of $9,000 (in grants, donations and in-kind) to make her event come to life. When it does, she envisions three days of workshops, probably 90 minutes each, in which anyone from the community — not just children and teens — can participate. If there’s time, she hopes to work in a couple of performances by the Moving in the Spirit dancers, open to anyone who wants to attend.

 

Will Amy be tempted to participate with the dancers in 2020, or will she stay on the sidelines?

 

“Dance is really like being an athlete,” she says. “If you’re going to do it, you really need to do it while you’re young. I did what I wanted to do, so this is my new thing. I want to bring these dancers to Starkville, so (people) can see just how wonderful they are.”

 

More about Amy

Cadence Bank associate Amy Burton is bringing Moving in the Spirit dance program to Starkville

 

In addition to her work at the bank and her dedication to the project, Amy is married and has two kids of her own at home; a daughter, 18, and a son, 13. The question seems a natural: Do they dance?

 

“No,” she laughs. Her daughter plays basketball and wants to be a dentist. Her son is artistic and thinks it’s silly that Amy saves all his work. In the way of teens everywhere, what their parents do does not always impress.

 

But that’s OK. Amy is clear on the power and passion of dance.

 

“I went on a tour with Moving in the Spirit — we went to the Czech Republic and Hungary. In Hungary, we took a bus to a little girl’s parents’ house out in the country. We didn’t have an interpreter. We get there, we don’t speak Hungarian, they don’t speak English, but the parents are offering food and drinks. It’s this quaint little farm. And of course, the first thing the kids do is hook up the boombox. All the kids stood in a circle and took turns doing different dance movements. So, they’re communicating, even though they didn’t speak the same language.

 

“The kids knew right away. The older people, we were just enjoying it. It was the language of dance.”

 

Learn more about our mission, vision and values

 

Cadence Bank is proud of Amy and all our associates who work to make the world a better place. When people come together to make a difference for youth, the whole community wins! Learn more about our mission, vision and values.

 

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