I met Ms. Denise when Katrina and Greta took dancing lessons at her dance studio, Dance Sensations, in High Bridge [the little town I grew up in and where my Dad still lives.] She was a dynamic person and always had a smile on her face.
As years passed [and my girls traded their ballet slippers in for cleats, basketballs and field hockey sticks] I would meet Denise out-and-about.
We both followed a local band [CAIRO] and would meet up at various bars, like the Long Valley Pub & Brewery and Pattenburg House, and dance the night away. Denise was always so full of joy!
Years roll forward, and after a few years of not having our paths cross, I come to find her without realizing who she was, and it was all because of Down syndrome.
When Emma Sage was 3 and she was registered at Dance Dynamics in Long Valley, I just registered her. She and her bestfriend Claudia were registered and attended class together. After the second class, the instructor came up to me and said that she couldn't teach Emma Sage. When I asked "why?" she said "We just don't teach children like her."
I was dumbfounded and quite upset. I didn't know what to do or say, so I just left. Of coarse, on the way home I thought of every advocacy thing I could have said ~~~ and a few unpleasant thoughts too!
But by the time I got home, I realized that I was not going to fight this type of prejudice, I just didn't have the energy or the desire to fight to keep her some place where she was not wanted.
I called a friend, who suggested I call a dance school at the Glen Gardner Youth Center, who she knew had a few girls with T21 in their classes.
I make the call and right off the bat, explain that my daughter has Down syndrome and that her school was recommended to me and did she think she could enroll my daughter [and her friend, as Claudia's Mother refused to stay at the old school].
She said, "Of coarse....to not would be disgraceful". After a few more minutes of details, she tells me the name of her school 'Dance Sensations'....to which I say "Denise Alexander?"
We chat for a bit and low-and-behold, guess who also has a daugher with T21? Denise [who married John from the band we both loved] had a little girl two months younger than Emma Sage, Anhay who was also born blessed with a little extra!
Fate.....what an amazing thing!
So, tonight I put on some music and danced........
As Denise just loved to dance.
Denise loved to smile and she made all she met feel like they were the most amazing and special person in the world.
We will miss you dearly........and may you always dance!
Denise Alexander Male
Denise Alexander Male, 48, of Stroudsburg, passed away in her home on Saturday, January 6, 2007, after a long illness. Born: She was born in Greenville, Pa. Personal: She was a devoted wife, a loving mother of four and "Mama" to many. She was a dancing diva who enlightened every soul whose path she crossed. She was inspired to follow her passions by loving parents, Norman Alexander and the late Rozell Alexander. An early love for dance paved the way as she twirled through Greenville High School and pirouetted into a Bachelor of Arts degree in dance and liberal arts at Denison University. After college, she tapped her way into a successful career as a dance educator, teaching at theater workshop for 25 years. She launched her own successful studio, Dance Sensations, in 1994. She performed in the New Jersey Tap Ensemble and the Mock Turtles Marionette Company, founded a dance program at Blair Academy, served on the board of Warren County Community College, acted as president of Norwescap, collaborated with Arts Genesis, directed the Northampton Martin Luther King celebration and was a dedicated member of Shiloh Baptist Church. Survivors: her husband, John; her father, Norman and step-mother, Miss Charles Hampton; her children, Kenya, Anwar, Anyah and Jonathan; as well as by Nana Banks and sister, Doretta Bryant. Services: 11 a.m. Wednesday in the church, Easton. A viewing will be held 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and 10 a.m. to time of service Wednesday in the church. Arrangements are under the direction of Robert W. Snyder Funeral Home, Riegelsville, Pa. Memorials: to Shiloh Baptist Church, 403 Pastor Fred David St., Easton, PA 18042. Published in The Express Times on 1/8/2007.