The Julius E. McCullough Music Education and Performance Scholarship
My family tells me stories from when baby Caden would run and dance around the house, shaking his little tush the second he heard music. My family loved it and I obviously loved it too, so I forced them to put me into dance classes when I was three years old. One thing that I recently realized about my past is that when I would watch a movie or television show, I would barely focus on the movie itself. So, what distracted me from the plot of the movie itself? The dancing, the choreography, the art. I would and still do analyze and mostly focus on the movement that takes place behind the characters in a film. It was because of baby Caden shaking his rump and the impeccable displays of background movement why I love and continue to dance to this day.

My future seems very distant, but I know that it will sneak up on me sooner than I expect. My future is dance; I know that, but what I do with it is a completely different question. I have contemplated heavily on this for mainly the past two years now, and have found with an open mind that I need to set near goals and goals for when I have quadruple hip replacements and 24 displaced vertebrae, and am no longer in any shape to perform.
What are the short term goals? After I attend The Juilliard School for the next four years and absorb all of the knowledge the incredible faculty has to provide, I would love to get the chance to be a company member with Nederlands Dans Theater. Their performances, cohesive community, and their explorative minds intrigue me immensely. It would be a dream of mine to get the opportunity to perform and learn with such astounding artists by my side and as mentors.
What is the long term goal? For the more distant future, on the other hand, I would love to be able to teach. I would like to teach a wide variety of ages and levels to further my understanding of the human body and how different body types respond to different forms of training over different periods of time.

My dance instructor Denise Wall has done a great job of preparing us for the professional world. At the studio, she pushes us way past our mental and physical limits, and even teaches my group, 14-18 year olds, how to teach and mentor students that are much younger; I had no idea anyone could teach about teaching until I enrolled at the studio and began Ms. Denise’s teacher training program. The program is designed to educate us students on how to educate other students just in case we need to begin teaching to help put food on our table or pay rent for the month. It also shows us how delicate and tedious it is to give responsive corrections that show good results. She stresses that we apply the feedback we give to the next generation of dance to ourselves when we go to take our weekly scheduled classes and even apply it into our daily lives. This program has definitely helped in my maturity and growth not only as a dancer, but as a human being.

I currently religiously identify as a Nondenominational Christian, but I do not go to church that often; however, the faculty at Heritage Church, where I usually attend, and I try to communicate the Word of God through my ability to dance. I have performed on their very small stage three times and have felt content knowing I have used my gift to give. This is something I feel very strongly about: giving back. I have received so much information in my past 14 years of dancing, so why wouldn’t I share years of experience with others and inform those who do not understand dance as well a new form of communication?

Lastly, my choreographic experience is very minimal. The only things I have choreographed are a few combinations here and there, and two friends of mine and I choreographed a short piece to perform in the Black Lives Matter protest in Virginia Beach in mid 2020. This itself stresses that I have not dwelled in that realm of dance yet, but I plan to do so at some point in my enrollment at The Juilliard School. One opportunity they give students are seven organized choreography workshops spread throughout the academic year with performances for each one. They provide the studio space, students pick their own rehearsal schedule, and students cast other fellow students in their pieces. It is an incomparable experience to be able to get the opportunity to participate in this next year; however, more often than not, freshmen are overwhelmed during the first year of attendance and do not participate until they are further along in their studies. I have spoken with some of the students that currently attend the school, and they say that it is completely valid if students wish to sit out on this, but they highly recommend participating because it is an irreproachable learning experience. Anything and everything students do is a learning experience and a chance for growth, for it all matters and may even come into effect some time in the future when least expected. From learning to live in a 2 square foot dorm with a roommate to how articulate the first tendu at the beginning of ballet class is, it matters. I am not saying any of this to say that the reason I have not choreographed much is because no one has given me the opportunity to do so, but that I plan to explore and soar into different fields of dance I have not done so yet, including choreography.

I am so thankful I have been able to dance for so long and still love it with 100% of my heart; my doggies have always occupied 100% of one of my other hearts of course. The love I have for dance, performing, and most importantly learning is forever alive and growing. I literally, actually, physically, mentally, and any other -ly would not be able to function without the art of dance. It wakes me up every morning because it has confirmed its mutual trust with me. It trusts me to practice the art and I trust it in keeping me sane. I am enlivened to discover what track dance has in store for me, and I will follow it blindly through the dark, frightening forest of life. Dance is community. Dance is learning. Dance is thrilling. Dance is thoughtful. Dance is oddly and probably concerningly enthralling.
The Tidewater Area Musicians, Inc. is honored to present the $1,000.00 Julius E. McCullough Music Education and Performance Award to Caden Hunter. An extraordinary dancer, Caden is one of 24 dance majors from around the world to be admitted to Juilliard on full scholarship valued at $84,000.00. He is a graduate of Great Bridge High School and studied dance at Denise Wall's Dance Energy, ltd. in Virginia Beach, VA.  We are honored to add Caden to the TAM family.
Caden Hunter