The Peoria Ballet prides itself not only in providing high-quality dance instruction and stimulating performances, but in giving back and connecting with the community of Peoria. Two students of Dunlap High School and the Peoria Ballet, sisters Mary,17, and Catherine,15, McCarthy are living examples of this message. The McCarthy sisters are both current applicants for the Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouting that recognizes girls who make a difference in their communities and in their own lives. The Golden Eaglet insignia award, the equivalent of the Eagle Scout Award, invites Girl Scouts to take action and make a difference. The project is more than a good service project—it encompasses organizational, leadership, and networking skills.
The McCarthy sisters decided to use the skills drawn from a lifetime of classical dance education in selecting Peoria Ballet as the recipient of their Gold Award project. For the past three months, Mary and Catherine have invited Peoria Ballet dancers, staff, and members of the community to join them in constructing three Pancake and twenty-six Romantic tutus. Award recipient Catherine McCarthy remarks on her inspiration for the project, “I got my idea for the Gold Award when my mother and I were making my pancake tutu for the Youth American Grand Prix International Competition. The idea really solidified when I found out how many tutus the ballet had, and the condition of them. The tutus were poorly made and falling apart. We taught ourselves how to make a tutu and put that knowledge to use in this project for the community.” The project began on June 6, 2012 with a half-dozen people. By the third month, the McCarthy sisters had attracted over 22 volunteers who worked on the project for over 528 hours. They also coordinated donations for the ballet for the material from Cardinal Medical Group, Rieco-Titan Products, and Irma Burgasser-Thiele Estate.
Many don’t know the craftsmanship and skill it takes to make the tutus worn by dancers all around the world. The McCarthy sisters explain that it takes 40-60 hours to construct and decorate a single pancake tutu and even more time for decoration. Audiences at the Peoria Ballet’s July 31st performance of Paquita got a sneak peak of Catherine McCarthy’s Gold Award project efforts. Mary McCarthy’s project is still under construction. Mary, alongside her community and Peoria Ballet volunteers, is making 25 brand new costumes for the Snow Scene for Peoria Ballet’s 2012 Nutcracker.
The McCarthy sisters share a single vision—to make a lasting change. Each constructed tutu will last for over 20 years (that’s 20 Nutcracker performances!). Come see the Peoria Ballet’s 2012 annual performance of the Nutcracker on December 8th and 9th to see the tutus firsthand.