At 22, Rebekah Diaddigo is working to change the world through her artistic passion, dance.
The northwest Forsyth County resident last year began a program called “Bluebird: Uncaged,” which uses a multifaceted approach to bring “hope and dignity” to the world through dance.
Diaddigo’s love of dance began at age 3, when her mother took her to a production of “The Nutcracker.” Soon after, she started lessons at Sawnee School of Ballet and studied dance there for several years before moving to the Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education at 16.
When she was a junior in high school, she said, it “became clear that I should pursue this as a career.”
She was so passionate about becoming a professional dancer, she took a nontraditional path and obtained her four-year college degree through an online program, which allowed her to work at a much faster pace.
By 18, Diaddigo, who also works as a dance instructor at Still Pointe Dance Studio in South Forsyth, was a high school and college graduate.
As she began moving through the professional dance world, she became somewhat disillusioned.
“You have visions in your mind of ‘Oh, it’s going to be like this’… and it’s not what I thought it would be,” she said. “And just looking down the road and seeing the traditional trajectory of a dancer ... and really it’s selfish because everything is about you.
“The people are buying tickets to see you on stage, the lights are (focused) on you, you’re dancing with the music and making it visible.”
Diaddigo said she knew she wanted to use dance in a more profound way.
“I believe dance is so powerful because you can go places that words can’t,” she said. “I thought it could be used for something better or something more than just selfish entertainment, and the words ‘hope’ and ‘dignity’ just kept coming to mind.”
That’s when she realized she wanted to create a way to use dance to bring hope and dignity all over the world. And “Bluebird: Uncaged” was born.
Diaddigo began her efforts two years ago. The first project was a multimedia piece called “Beautiful Things.”
“We then made it a goal to produce a video each year,” she said. “And so our second year, we did ‘Breaking Free,’ another original piece combining more electronic-sound music with pointe shoes.”
After the second video, Diaddigo decided to use a four-pronged approach with “Bluebird,” including multimedia pieces, live performances, workshops for dance students and what she calls “uncaged adventures,” which bring professional dancers to underdeveloped countries to perform and teach.
The first “uncaged adventure” was last August to Panama through a partnership with the Christian mission group, Youth with a Mission.
Diaddigo traveled to the Central American country with two other professional dancers — Rachel Hulse of Lenexa, Kan., and Daley Kappenman of Huntsville, Ala.
While there, the trio put on several performances and taught dance to students in a few schools in Panama City.
Currently, Diaddigo, Hulse and Kappenman plan to return to Panama for July. This year’s adventure will include a fourth professional dancer, Louisa Chapman of Midland, Texas.
“Bluebird: Uncaged” also has performed at Passion Conferences, large-scale Christian events for young people, in Atlanta and Houston, in January and February. It also performed at Dance Upon Injustice, a fundraiser for anti-human-trafficking efforts, in Athens in October.
“Bluebird: Uncaged” workshops for young dancers ages 11 and older will be held throughout July and August at Still Pointe. They’re open to students from any dance studio in the area.
Diaddigo said she hopes the effort will continue to grow and touch more lives.
“Basically, this is just my way of rethinking the way we use art,” she said. “I want to use it for the greater good, whether that be bringing awareness to social causes or just reinforcing people’s value as individuals.
“Dance is universal, and I want to use it to build people up rather than tear them down.”