Fourteen-year-old Maggie Nawyn has a million-dollar dream. Make that a $2 million dream.
She is on a mission to see the Christensen Academy of Music and Dancing in Brigham City brought back to its full grandeur.
Nawyn, a concert pianist, has teamed up with friend and powerhouse singer Alex Boyé in an effort to raise the money to complete the restoration. A fundraiser hosted by Boyé, "Promise — New Hope for a Century Old Dream," will be held at the academy (58 N. Main) on June 22, starting with a pre-show at 6 p.m. followed by the concert at 7. The show will highlight Nawyn and Boyé, along with a choir and symphony.
The two have also produced a YouTube video highlighting the academy's empty interior transposed with all types of energetic talent. The video has been watched 115,000 times since it launched on May 29. “This music video and concert will be a wonderful opportunity to show people that this new idea of mine really can work,” said Nawyn, founder of the symphony shown in the video. “All it takes is faith, courage and a little bit of crazy.”
Nawyn has felt the magic of the academy through the stories that her great-grandparents passed on to family members. “My great-grandmother, Minnie Jensen, told about being a little girl and living in a little yellow house across the street to the north and hearing the music coming from the band on the ballroom floor,” Nawyn says of the memories her mother, Lori Nawyn, preserved through newspaper clippings, photographs and keepsakes. “My great-grandmother talked about the men in their military regalia and the women in their big hoop skirts and ballgowns.”
The academy was built in 1903 by the father and uncles of Willam, Harold and Lew Christensen. The brothers played major roles in the establishment of the San Francisco Ballet Company, Ballet West and the Portland Ballet, as well as many others. After the Christensens left Brigham City, the building, known for its massive staircase, served many purposes. In the 1920s it was called the Silver Slipper Ballroom. During this time, Nawyn’s great-grandmother met her husband while rolling skating in the rink downstairs.
“I hope that people come away inspired, uplifted and ambitious,” Nawyn said. "I want people to see that the Christensen brothers' dream, my dream and their own dreams can come true.”
Tickets ($10 each or $30/family pass) to the June 22 event as well as donations to the restoration can be purchased or made at Eventbrite.com. Those wishing to mail donations can send checks to P.O. Box 431, Brigham City, UT 84302.
Nawyn is planning on continuing fundraising efforts until the goal has been met.