Written by Shanna Kirkpatrick, Chara Founder
A Special Kind of Dance Mom
|I first met Dinah Boykin in 2009: she walked into the studio—our original location at W. Parkwood Avenue—with her three small daughters, looking for a place for them to try dance.
Dinah was clear that she wanted a studio for her daughters that aligned with her families values; a place where her daughters could make new friends and develop life skills. She wanted her girls to feel the love of a faith-based environment, with teachers who would encourage their individual gifts and talents. Dinah and her family quickly became fixtures at Chara Christian Dance Academy as two of her daughters, Maddie and Jamie, took more and more classes and danced in our competitive company.
With her fiery red hair and friendly personality, Dinah became a go-to dance mom when I sought an honest parent perspective. As a young studio owner, I appreciated her cheering me on and supporting our mission. Dinah also proved to be an amazing community ambassador for Chara. I frequently found her at competitions talking to moms from other studios about the impact dance at Chara was having on her girls’ lives. There was no higher compliment!
I always admired the way Dinah approached dance with her girls. As they were raised up through our programs, she continued to meet our feedback with support, a genuine interest, and trust in our experience as educators. She could see that dance was building her girls’ confidence and reinforcing the faithful values they held at home, even when it was hard or when obstacles arose in her dancers’ journeys. Eventually, her daughter Maddie became a teacher and director at Chara.
It was devastating then, when Dinah went to be with Jesus in August 2017, after years of battling breast cancer—and just one week before her family’s home was flooded by Hurricane Harvey. She was an incredible mom and the definition of “positive parent” at Chara. Our community felt a little less bright as we mourned for her family.
Dinah left a legacy of grace and courage in her girls, a legacy that now lives on in four beautiful grandchildren who are learning about their grandma through pictures and videos. It has been such a joy for me to continue relationships with Alexis, Maddie, and Jamie as they have had babies, adopted babies, and started nursing careers. All of these things were Dinah’s dreams for her girls.
Memories of Dinah remind me why our work here on Earth is so important. Our time may be limited, but the impact of our relationships is not. At Chara, we are fortunate to have so many parents walking in Dinah’s footsteps—whether they realize it or not—shining a light on how dance lifts up their children and shapes their path.
At our previous location (and now this one), there is a bench that many families gather around as they come and go from the studio. This October, as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we have permanently dedicated this bench to Dinah Boykin. We hope that it will be a place of reflection, comfort, laughter, and love—a place where Dinah herself sat, talking with other dance moms, putting Jamie’s hair in a bun, reveling in the extraordinary ordinariness of a day at dance. I hope it will be a reminder of the preciousness of life, the goodness of God, and the absolute joy of being a Chara dance mom or dad.
I am forever grateful to have known Dinah Boykin. And I am thankful for our parents who continue to believe in Chara just as she did. You are loved and appreciated!