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Mnikesa Whitaker Pushes Past Pain Of Debilitating Disease To Share The Gift Of Dance

Mnikesa Whitaker Pushes Past Pain Of Debilitating Disease To Share The Gift Of Dance

NEW HAVEN — When Mnikesa Whitaker started a ballet program at Fair Haven K-8 Middle School four years ago, she didn't expect much interest. "I thought it would be a couple of girls and me," said Whitaker, an English teacher at the school. "Seventy girls showed up for the first audition!" Since 2011, Whitaker has led BalletHaven, a remarkable after-school dance program at middle school on Grand Avenue that gives young girls of mostly low-income backgrounds access to high-quality ballet instruction. "I had a vision for this program for years, but I was waiting for my health to get better before launching it," Whitaker said. "Then, I said, why...

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