Grace Machanic is a woman who is capable of brightening a room with her smile and warming the coldest days with her heart. Her passion for ballet is shared with her young students who attend the School for Swans; the ballet studio she runs out of her basement in Old Town Alexandria. Once a dancer herself, Grace passes on her talent and fondness for dance to the young ballerinas, which range in age from four years old all the way up to seventeen. Though her career as a professional dancer was abruptly ended by a severe knee injury, she has never stopped dancing. She was in community plays and shows, and she now choreographs for the local schools and runs the School for Swans three days a week. Grace is more than just a dance teacher to all of her students; she wipes away tears, she laughs, she brings smiles and she makes all the ballerinas feel as though they’ve walked into their grandmother’s house for a visit. The atmosphere she’s created and upheld for many years is one of warmth and comfort, and the discipline she’s imbued through her gentleness is remarkable. The most rewarding of all is not only the continuation of her dream and love in the lives of many young ballerinas, but also the satisfaction of knowing that she has inspired everyone with her grace.

By Jessica Carpenter, 2011
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