“We Dance for Joy,” a bronze sculpture of a dancer in a graceful yet rapturous pose, was unveiled Nov. 2 honoring Joy Squire, founder of Taylor Dance and Ballet Americana.
The bronze sculpture, created by Brent Harris of Kalamazoo, is ensconced in front of the Taylor Recreation Center, 22805 Goddard Road, where her students currently attend classes.
The sculpture funds were raised through private donations, with Community Development Block Grant funds covering landscaping costs. The City of Taylor provided the site, and worked with the Taylor Conservancy Foundation to bring the project to fruition.
Squire started Taylor Dance in 1966, initially offering tap and jazz in an elementary school gymnasium, and the program has grown during the past 53 years, drawing students from many southeastern Michigan communities, and has prepared students for success careers in the performing arts.
Squire was inducted into the Taylor Hall of Fame in 2002, and in 1993 was recognized by the Downriver Council for the Arts with its Salute to Excellence Award.
Taylor Conservancy Foundation president Larry Wright said the sculpture and garden, which will be maintained by the conservancy, honors a premier city resident.
“We are very honored to be a part of this, Joy, and we thank you, thank Carl (Squire, her son), and thank the city of Taylor for allowing us to put this garden in this spectacular space,” Wright said.
Mayor Rick Sollars said that once, when he attending a conference for the City of Taylor, someone said to him, “Oh, that’s Joy Squire’s town.”
“That’s one way to look at it,” Sollars said. “That statement is just one reflection of the impact you have had on people’s lives. This dedication today is a reflection of you, your immediate family, and your extended family in Taylor Dance.”
Wright said the sculpture is an awesome work of art.
“It captures the essence of what Joy has done for all of the families here in the dance community,” Wright said.
Carl Squire said the sculpture and garden were a unique endeavor honoring a unique person, and he thanked the many people who helped the vision become a reality, including Sollars, and Larry and Sarah Wright, specifically, and the city’s many “silent sponsors.”
Carl Squire said his mother is “the genuine article.”
“What you see is what you get, which in Joy’s case is delightfully endearing,” he said. “She has never been a seeker of fame or fortune, rather she has simply gone about doing something for which she has a tremendous passion, and in doing so, has positively impacted the lives of thousands of people.”
He said Joy Squire is genuinely kind and compassionate.
“Joy always has a way of finding the good in people, frequently going out of her way to do a kind deed or say a kind word at just the right moment for someone,” Carl Squire said. “I am sure that many of her finest moments are known only by those who have been touched by her words and deeds.”
He said she has also maintained an unwavering commitment to the vision and purpose for the dance program.
“While Taylor Dance has had dozens of students move on to professional dance careers, 99 percent of the students never turn professional,” Carl Squire said. “From the very beginning, however, Joy has wanted to engage kids from all walks of life, regardless of their talent or potential as dancers. She is committed to the idea that dance is an art form, that it is expressive and fun for all people, that dance empowers people, and is an important element of our culture.”
He said his mother told others that the dance program has built confidence in its student which will impact students for their entire lives.
“What motivates her is the sense of accomplishment on a child’s face, and the excitement in their eyes when they come off stage,” Carl Squire said. “Be assured that she is the genuine article, the kind of person that comes along every so often, and makes the world a better place.”
Sculptor Harris said the dancer was sculpted in clay, from which he made the molds, and it was then cast it in silica bronze, in about 12 pieces, using the lost wax method.
Harris said he wanted to make a sculpture that was universal.
“It is symbolic of everyone,” he said. “It wasn’t any particular dance style, or any particular body type or ethnicity. I just wanted something very inviting. She has her hand reaching out, maybe inviting you to dance. I wanted to capture the energy of Joy.