Every once in a while, we’re introduced to a child who is both naturally gifted and fully committed to their craft. Today, we’re sharing the inspiring story of Georgia Marko, a 14-year old pre-professional ballerina from Roswell, GA, who lost her dad to glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, a few days before Christmas 2022.
Georgia’s hard work led to receiving a scholarship to participate in a 6-week program with the Houston Ballet this summer. The Joy Mission is proud to be covering all of her travel and program expenses for the program.
Roswell’s Tiny Dancer
For Georgia, dance has been her passion since she began at the age of 3. Today, she dances at The Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance and is part of the Roswell Dance Company.
“Dancing is such a big part of who I am. I am a hard worker and love time in the studio with my teachers and friends. I love working on improving my technique and artistry. There is always more work to do!” Georgia says.
Georgia’s mom, Vickie, says it gives her pure joy to watch Georgia dance. “She’s worked so hard and has come so far over the years. I’m incredibly proud of her dedication to her craft.”
“Dancing is such a big part of who I am. I am a hard worker and love time in the studio with my teachers and friends. I love working on improving my technique and artistry. There is always more work to do!”
From a young age, Georgia’s natural talent as well as her drive and dedication have impressed her instructors. One of her teachers at Tolbert Yilmaz School of Dance and Roswell Dance Theater, Mary Taylor, shared that “Georgia showed such great potential when I taught her years ago. She would always come to class so focused, making sure she remembered every correction from the previous class. Her dedication and determination were evident from the very beginning. She has so much grace and humility. Every teacher is blessed by her presence and every student is encouraged by her talent.”
Dancing through life’s challenges
Shortly after her father passed, Georgia set up a ballet barre at home to allow herself to practice every day. Her mom, Vickie, recalls dance helping carry her through many challenging times in her life. “It brings her peace in the chaos,” she says.
“Georgia’s dedication and determination were evident from the very beginning. She has so much grace and humility. Every teacher is blessed by her presence and every student is encouraged by her talent.”
—Mary Taylor, Georgia’s dance instructor
Her instructors also took notice of how dance has been a beacon of light following the death of her dad.
Tracey Bayly at Roswell Dance Theater shared, “During her father’s illness and especially after his death, Georgia seemed even more determined to be a better dancer. In a way, I think she did it not just for herself, but for him. Dance has been such a beneficial outlet for her because even during the worst days, she can escape and feel a little bit better. When it comes to her art form, Georgia is a fighter and will take every opportunity to be the best version of herself possible.”
To the Houston Ballet and beyond
This summer, Georgia will dance with the Houston Ballet for 6-8 hours per day, 6 days a week. While she applied to several other programs, she ultimately chose Houston Ballet for its reputation and the fact that she was inspired by a former Houston Ballet principal dancer, Lauren Anderson. Georgia previously had the opportunity to take several master classes with her—including her audition!
When asked about how she feels about the upcoming program, Georgia says she feels proud to have been accepted into such a prestigious school and is looking forward to meeting new teachers and making new friends.
Thinking about what Georgia has in store for this summer and beyond, Vickie says, “We’re so incredibly grateful for The Joy Mission. It is so inspiring to meet people who can take a tragic life event and turn it into something truly special for others. I only hope we can do the same one day.”
“She’s worked so hard and has come so far over the years. I’m incredibly proud of her dedication to her craft.”
—Vickie Marko, Georgia’s mom
We at The Joy Mission are proud to support your dreams of becoming a ballerina and can’t wait to watch you shine in Houston and beyond, Georgia!