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Healing through dance

By Zeba Hussaini
Green Hope High School ‘24

Twelve-year-old Chiara Tomé prepared to perform one of the most important routines of her life.

It was soon after the fatal school shooting at nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and her dance troupe was about to perform a group piece dedicated to the victims.

She felt overwhelmed with a rush of intensity, passion and emotion.

“We all felt really connected to the audience and victims,” said Tomé, looking back at the performance as a 17-year-old. “One of the girls who died danced with one of the girls we danced with, which was really sad. We were really nervous, but also felt empowered. We knew we needed to do this.”

Tomé, a rising senior at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, has experience in a plethora of dance styles such as Merengue, Salsa and Middle Eastern.  Dance has always been a way for her to connect with her emotions, and the group experience after Parkland was no exception.

Each dancer played a prominent role in the performance to the song “Train Wreck,” which aimed to not only spread awareness about gun violence in the United States, but to also comfort families who lost someone through gun violence.

“After the dance, everyone was so terrified,” she said. “What if we’re next? We’re so young, and having to comprehend something like that at the ripe age of 12 is not easy to do. It was a struggle, but we knew it would be empowering.”

Through her passion and determination, Tome felt more connected with the art of dance.

“Dance lets you express yourself in a way words can’t,” she said. “It’s a way to let go of or cope with things.”