When dance appeal goes far beyond simply dancing

Whitney and ACCESS make beautiful music together
By: Jeremy McDonald for The Placer Herald
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Brooke Thomson has always had a love for dance. She’s always listening to music, singing or doing some form of dancing.

On April 20, during the halftime of the Whitney vs. Roseville girls soccer game, that dream came to life for the 13-year-old with her dance group.

It all started when Thomson’s father was sitting next to Whitney High girls soccer head coach Ana Jones during a basketball game. Brooke was next to her father with headphones on.

Jones and Thomson’s father began talking about soccer and Jones asked if Brooke was playing basketball.

“His response was no. So I asked ‘Why are you watching the game?’” Jones said, expressing curiosity.

Thompson’s father pointed to Brooke and said they go to games together to watch the cheerleaders because she loves dance. Brooke would go home and try to duplicate the dances she saw the cheerleaders do that night.

Brooke, who suffers from a genetic abnormality, is part of the ACCESS program that gives free dance scholarships to kids with disabilities.

After speaking with Brooke about her love to dance, Jones came up with an idea to dedicate a game to her.

“That's when I mentioned to (her) mom and dad, if they would be OK with me to dedicate a game to Brooke,” said Jones. “So now, instead of Brooke coming to watch all those games, everyone will be watching her perform; she'll be in the spotlight with her dance friends.”

After Gina Thompson, Brooke’s mother, enthusiastically agreed, Jones inquired as to Brooke’s favorite color. A fan of Justin Bieber, Brooke chose his favorite color, purple

Northern California Dance Conservatory Director and ACCESS founder Jen Bradford approached ACCESS coach and professional dancer Lindsey Oester. Oester is also a developmental psychologist, who uses dance in her work.

“I found in my one-on-ones that therapy with music and dance brought out the best results,” Oester said. “So I always had in the back of my head to have a class that was just music and dancing. So it’s therapy in disguise.”

Gina Thompson said the idea became a community event when the Whitney Dance Team, Associated Student Body, the X-Factor and team mom Michelle Schreiner set up the dream.

“Honestly I think it’s so great, seeing the whole school come out together to support her,” added Kylie Thomson, Brooke’s older sister who plays soccer for the Wildcats’ junior varsity.

On the night of April 20, after six months of practice, Brooke and her group danced to “Turn Down For What?” under the lights of Wildcat Stadium in front of their biggest crowd yet.

“I loved it!” said Brooke after the show. “Excited … I like dancing.”

The scholarships for the NCDC ACCESS Dance is completely community funded. To donate to this great cause, visit