Aliza Matthews dances to the top
Aliza Matthews poses with Arendell Parrott Academy dance teacher Amanda Hort, who was also recognized for dedication, guidance and exemplary leadership. Submitted photo.
When Aliza Matthews, an Arendell Parrott Academy senior, learned in mid-April she was a national finalist in the National Dance Education Organization Achievement Award competition, her teacher Amanda Hort was not surprised.
“NDEO gives one of the highest honors a young person can achieve at the national level in the dance arts field,” Hort said, “and I’ve never taught a student with more passion and dedication than Aliza has.”
The award recognizes artistic merit, leadership in dance and community activities and academic excellence. To compete, Matthews had to choreograph and videotape an original solo piece, write an analysis of her dance and detail her leadership in a community project involving dance.
A dance student since age 2, Matthews has used her talent and passion to serve others. She organized with other artistic friends to give performances for local nursing home residents and then began a series of ballet and jazz dance classes for local Boys and Girls club students.
Last summer, she taught special needs students at a theater camp in Pinehurst and she’s also taken her skills outside the continental United States.
“I took my 501(c)3 professional dance company, OM Grown, to perform and offer community dance classes in Puerto Rico,” Matthews explained. “After last year’s hurricane, many communities have not recovered. Our company has done fundraisers to help them, and on our trip we got to share the arts with citizens in San Juan.”
A member of Parrott’s National Honor Society for Dance Arts, Matthews intends to continue a life of dance.
“I want to dedicate myself to connecting the arts and science and pushing the boundaries of treatment for disabilities,” she said. “Dance has enriched my past and helped me discover my future.”