D2020 Person of the Week: Ballet teacher inspires students through therapeutic dance

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) - Changing a community can come in many different forms, and the students at a ballet class in Farmington Hills say their teacher is doing it through one of our oldest art forms -- dance.

You wouldn’t normally think of dance as therapy, but one ballet teacher is proving that it can improve the body, the spirit, and the community -- one student at time.

“I danced professionally until I was 32-years-old,” said Christina Kammuller.

For Kammuller, it’s almost impossible to separate her personal life, dancing, students, and family.

“After I had my daughter, I decided to stop dancing professionally, and I was looking for a job,” she said.

That’s when a dance substitute teaching job turned into a new  purpose and new mission for the former principal dancer.

“On the way I was thinking, ‘Oh my God. I’m a professional dancer, and I’m going to teach adults.’ After the first day I taught these adults, I absolutely fell in love with it. They asked questions. They wanted to repeat,” she said.

“I figured that’s okay. If these people want to learn, I’m going to teach them,” she added.

Over the years Kammuller’s Farmington Hills studio has managed to grow and build a community of adult dancers united in movement, ballet, and becoming a family along the way.

“The age range from 14 years to 80,” said Kammuller.

Her studio is called Christina's Adult Ballet.

It's located at 31531 W. 13 Mile Road in Farmington Hills, Michigan. 

“When I first came here, I didn’t feel like an outsider. I felt embraced not just by her but the whole class,” said Jessica Thomas.

For Melissa Wrona -- who suffers from epilepsy -- ballet is both therapeutic and a challenge.

And it’s Christina’s class and fellow students that have helped the 19-year-old stretch her talent into professional dance career. And it’s made her feel at ease along the way.

“Since I came here, this has become my second home, and the only studio where I feel safe,” said Wrona.

For some in the school, the mission may be to become a world class dancer.

While for others, the goal is just to keep dancing.

“She brings out the best in you as a dancer and a person, and she really knows her stuff,” said student Grace Whan.

 For Kammuller the mission is clear.

“I really want these people to learn and I really want these people to be happy,” she smiled.

And that’s why Christina Kammuller is our Detroit 2020 Person of the Week.

If you know someone making a difference in your community, we want to tell their story.  Please nominated them by emailing us at: personoftheweek@wxyz.com

Story videotaped, written, and edited by WXYZ photojournalist John Ciolino.

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