Governor Hickenlooper Dances with Ballet Society Students to Encourage Awareness and Prevention of Teen Suicide

Governor Hickenlooper (center) presents his dance moves to Colorado Ballet Society Flash Mob dancers: (L-R) Charlotte Kwong, Devon Bakalyan, Jared Guest, SarahRose Lorrig, Gabrielle Alonso   Photo Courtesy of DMGoldstein Photography

On Monday, May 15, 2017, Colorado Governor, John Hickenlooper, was surprised with a flash mob by dancers from Colorado Ballet Society at Beacon Health Options in north Colorado Springs where Dr. Lisa Clements was hosting their annual event highlighting May as Mental Health month. Gov. Hickenlooper has participated in the event for the past three years. 


“This year, we focused on EVERY STORY MATTERS,” shared Director, Office of Member & Family Affairs of Beacon Health Options, Lynne Bakalyan.  “As the Transformation Team discussed what the theme should be for Hickenlooper’s visit, we wanted to tie it in to our efforts for Zero Suicide. Teen suicide has hit our community hard and our young people are impacted by this. While addressing this difficult topic, we also want to highlight the strengths of our youth. One of the ideas was to have a flash mob which would leave our 80+ attendees with a positive message.”


“My heart aches for every parent who loses their child to suicide,” says Bakalyan. “My daughter has lost friends to suicide, but, we cannot change what we do not address.”


Since Bakalyan’s daughter, Devon, has danced at the studio for many years, she reached out to Ballet Society founder/director, Patricia Hoffman, to explore the possibilities. 


“We believe that dance is an empowering force for young people,” said Hoffman. “I challenged an advanced student, SarahRose Lorrig, with the task of choreographing to the event theme song Brave.”


SarahRose not only “rose” to the challenge-she was “brave” enough to invite Hickenlooper up to the front to dance-and dance he did.

If attendees left our event feeling empowered to be brave, through the stories shared, or by seeing teens brave enough to dance in front of the Governor. . . not afraid to put yourself out there. . . we consider ourselves successful,” explains Bakalyan. “Because every person matters, every story matters.  We need to balance the difficult topic of teen suicide with the positive contributions of our youth. We need to challenge people to be brave!”

“I’ve lost a grandfather, an aunt and a cousin to suicide,” shares dancer and lead choreographer, SarahRose Lorrig. “If there is a way I can communicate to people that their lives matter, especially in their darkest moments, I’d like to do that. Today’s pain should not swallow up the hope of tomorrow.”


Sixteen-year-old, Devon Bakalyan, is a junior at Discovery Canyon High School where a suicide cluster in El Paso County was identified in 2016.


“I lost one of my friends during my freshman year to suicide,” shared Devon. “It was one of the worst moments in my life. There have been multiple suicides of students from my school and it is terrible seeing the impact it has on everyone. If a teen, or basically anyone is contemplating suicide, they should know that they do matter. People do care about you. Suicide is a permanent fix for a temporary problem and you have so much to live for.”


“I cannot be more blessed by the six young people who put themselves out there in front of strangers to share an encouraging message,” says Bakalyan. “The staff at Beacon were so impressed and it was the highlight of Governor Hickenlooper’s visit. One of my employees told me she was moved to tears by the dancers. I cannot thank Ballet Society enough for helping to increase awareness of ways to prevent suicide from taking another life in our community.”

 Governor Hickenlooper (center) receives applause for his dance moves from Ballet Society dancers (L-R) Avery Ruff, Charlotte Kwong, Jared Guest, SarahRose Lorrig, Gabrielle Alonso   Photo Courtesy of DMGoldstein Photography

Gabrielle Alonso being 'Brave' dancing for the Beacon Health event  Photo Courtesy of DMGoldstein Photography

Ballet Society dancers with Governor Hickenlooper listen to closing remarks (L-R) Avery Ruff, Charlotte Kwong, Jared Guest, Governor Hickenlooper, SarahRose Lorrig, and Gabrielle Alonso   Photo Courtesy of DMGoldstein Photography


General information on the Colorado Ballet Society is available online at:


‘Like’ us on Facebook!   Colorado Ballet Society


All images are Courtesy of DMGoldstein Photography and are available in hi-resolution

for reprinting by calling Donna at: (719) 337.4343

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