Madelyn Bushley – Virginia Nomination & Photography by Maura Varley Photography Issue 50 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Madelyn Bushley is a rock star! Not only is Madelyn an incredibly talented dancer, but she has been selected among her peers to serve as the dance team captain for the dance team that represents the performing arts high school in Central Virginia. Madelyn's kindness is evident in her eagerness to help incoming freshmen as a "Knight" mentor and she is currently working on designing and implementing a capstone project for the Thomas Dale High School Specialty center. When not showing tremendous school spirit, you will likely finding this athletic senior in the mountains snowboarding with her family and friends.
Photography by Maura Varley Photography
Tell us about your dance career. I started dancing around home before I was even old enough to take formal classes. When mom realized how much fun I had when dancing, she signed me up for ballet and tap at the age of three. At the age of 11, I had my first tap solo in a ShowStoppers competition. I have studied ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and lyrical. In eighth grade I decided to apply to the Thomas Dale Speciality Center for dance for high school. I was thrilled when I was accepted! Currently in school, we are studying Bartenieff and his movement. While this helps me accentuate my dance movement and gives me a broader perspective, my favorite style of dance is jazz. I enjoy upbeat music like “All Night” by Chance the Rapper.
What does it mean to you to be the dance team captain? What duties/roles does that entail for you? As dance team captain, this means being a role model to the rest of the team. Ever since I was a freshman, I had the goal of becoming captain. Now that I hold that honor, I want to make sure that I set an example to the rest of the team. I want to be someone the team looks up to. In summer 2021, we held a four-day camp to learn sidelines and a jazz routine for the upcoming games and competitions. Due to Covid, practices had not been convened in over a year. I had to step up and provide leadership for the new Freshmen and Sophomore members of the team; they had never experienced a practice. At the conclusion of camp, I was commended for my leadership skills from my coach. During this time, I learned that you have to be willing to put your friendships with other teammates aside in order to be an effective leader and your peers will respond when you lead with mutual admiration and respect.
What do you love most about your dance team? I love the closeness we have on the Knightettes Dance Team. We always have such a good time at practice or games because of our combined goofiness. I also appreciate the “drive” of my teammates. When it is time to get serious and prepare for competition or perform for fans, I know that we will put in the effort to achieve a common goal.
What is a favorite dance memory and/or accomplishment? At UDA dance camp in the summer of 2019, I auditioned for All-American, achieved that goal, and received a medal. This is awarded to dancers who establish showmanship and perform extraordinarily well. This was a huge accomplishment and I was thrilled!
Why did you choose Maura Varley Photography for your senior portraits? What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? One of my close friends had posted a picture on social media saying that she was on Maura Varley Photography’s Senior Team. I checked out Maura’s Instagram and saw that she was seeking additional team members. I decided to message her and ask if she was still accepting seniors. Low and behold, she was, so I became a part of the team! I have thoroughly enjoyed this experience. It's great being a part of such an amazing team. The other girls are genuine, and we all build each other up. We have so much fun doing photoshoots together. For my senior session, Maura had asked me what preferences I had as far as location and backgrounds. She has an innate ability to take ideas and merge them with the perfect location, setting, and props! The photo with me wearing my pointe tutu holding the balloon bouquet is so unique and it was very fun to do! What doesn’t show is that it was like 100 degrees that day! Maura was prepared with cold drinks and snacks. She is truly one of my favorite people.
What is a "knight mentor" & what are your roles and responsibilities as a member of this organization? A knight mentor is a student from Thomas Dale who holds the responsibilities of mentoring the incoming freshman in the week prior to school starting and throughout their freshman year. The mentorship continues into the students’ sophomore year. Thomas Dale Juniors and Seniors are eligible to be council members (knight mentors). In order to become a council member, you must be invited to apply and complete an application process. After being accepted, you are trained on how to guide new students and how to connect with them in a positive way.
Photography by Jackie Tucker
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? Overcoming my anxiety has been extremely challenging for me during my high school years. When others had shared experiences or struggles with anxiety, I always thought it wasn’t that bad and that it would be easy to overcome. Now that I experience it, I realize how much of a toll it can take on you. It is challenging, but with support it is something you learn to accept and adapt. You learn your limitations, when you need to make time for yourself, and when you should extend yourself to do things that must be done.
3 Things on your bucket list For my bucket list, I would like to do the following in no particular order, 1-Hiking Pikes Peak, 2-Visiting the Grand Canyon, and 3-Traveling abroad.
Look for Madelyn in issue 50 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!