Why we’re kvelling over Clayton sophomore Grace Wolf

Why+were+kvelling+over+Clayton+sophomore+Grace+Wolf

Jordan Palmer, Chief Digital Content Officer

Earlier this month, 42 metro area high school acts competed in the semi-final round of the 12th Annual St. Louis Teen Talent Competition. The acts feature four categories (vocal, instrumental, dance, and specialty). Local judges viewed and scored the acts, narrowing the field to just 14. One of those 14 acts is Grace Wolf, a sophomore at Clayton High School.

Meet Grace Wolf

“I am fairly new to dance and just began dancing when I moved to St. Louis a little over 4 years ago,” said Wolf, whose family belongs to Temple Israel.

The former figure skater now trains with Donna Patzius-Hill, at the Patzius Performing Arts studio in Creve Coeur. She is also a soloist with the pre-professional Midwest Ballet Theater. But because of COVID, performances and competitions are rare, but STL Teen Talent is one of the few competitions she was able to enter as a dancer.

“My dance instructor, Donna Patzius-Hill, encouraged me to enter the competition because she felt that my piece, which she choreographed, had a strong story to tell that related to my heritage,” said Wolf.

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The piece 

Although Wolf studies modern and jazz dance, her primary focus is on ballet/pointe.

“My many years of competitive figure skating taught me how to work hard and focus, I try to do my best regardless of the art I explore,” said Wolf.  “This work ethic is something I apply to all aspects of my personal and academic life. I am performing a contemporary ballet piece to the theme from ‘Schindler’s List.’”

Wolf first heard the theme from “Schindler’s List” while watching a Russian figure skater perform during the Sochi Olympic games in 2014. The music mesmerized Wolf, who asked her mother about it.

“She shared with me the story of Oskar Schindler and how he risked his life to save the Jews from death in the concentration camps,” Wolf recalled. “I have been wanting to perform a piece like this and communicate this message ever since, but I was always told that I was not mature enough.”

Wolf, who is turning 16 this month, felt now is the right time to portray the pain the Holocaust caused and the hope that Oskar Schindler provided.

“Children suffered greatly during this time. Through my dance, I want to keep this story alive,” said Wolf.

Dancing and living with faith 

Faith finds its way into our lives and what we do in differing ways. For Wolf, she is reminded every day that there is discrimination and hate in the world.

“From the rabbi and congregants who were recently held hostage in Texas, to the Orthodox Jewish children I observed a few days ago in my neighborhood who were being yelled at with antisemitic slurs,” said Wolf. “My faith tells me that I must be strong, do what is right and use my being Jewish as a way to empathize and advocate for all of those who are oppressed.”

Another passion that fuels Wolf’s drive is advocating for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities or “IDD”.

“I have an older brother, Sam, who has autism and struggles to find his voice and independence. It is watching his struggles on a daily basis that continues to fuel my motivation to help others,” she said. “I also am taking Level 2 American Sign Language and plan to use these skills to work with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.”

How to see Wolf on stage

Wolf, and 17 other student performers, will compete in the finals of the STL Teen Talent competition at the Fabulous Fox Theatre on Friday, Feb. 11 at 8 p.m.

General admission tickets are required and will be available at no charge through Metrotix online at metrotix.com. Finalists include a variety of singers, musicians, dancers,   and acrobats (a list of acts can be found here).