Shelton dancers to perform ballet show to honor student's memory

Shelton students will be among the 150 dancers and singers from the Performing Arts Center of Connecticut (PACC) celebrating the holidays in “A Winter Ballet” on Saturday, Dec. 6  at the Trumbull High School auditorium, 72 Strobel Road.

Proceeds from the 1 and 7 p.m. performances will go to the Abby Anderson Scholarship Fund.

Participating Shelton residents are Kiara Christian, Olivia Kish, Samantha Randall, Courtney Sissick and Alexa Toohey.

“A Winter Ballet” features Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic “The Nutcracker,” original choreography to seasonal favorites, caroling and visits from Santa Claus and the Alternate Routes.

Abby Anderson was a Trumbull teenager who was passionate about the arts. She suffered from depression and despite receiving treatment, she took her own life in June.

Her family has openly talked about what happened to Abby as a way to encourage more discussion, and to end the stigma, about mental illness.

“We want to honor Abby’s life as that ray of sunshine, and at the same time, tell her story so that we may possibly be able to help someone who suffers in silence,” said Gillian Anderson, Abby’s mother.

Reserved seats for A Winter Ballet are $20. For information, to purchase tickets or to donate to the Abby Anderson Scholarship Fund, call 203-372-ARTS.

About Abby Anderson

Abby’s family — Gillian, Charles and Ben Anderson — join with PACC and ask people to celebrate the holidays in a way that benefits their own families, the community and the memory of their daughter, Abby.

Gillian Anderson shares her family's story candidly and honestly. “Throughout Abby's 15 years of life she was, essentially, passionate about the arts,” Gillian said.

“Drawn to ballet, hip-hop, singing, music, acting, poetry and painting, she wanted to do it all,” Gillian continued. “As a little girl, she was completely mesmerized by the dance troupe at PACC and would sit on Catherine LaChioma's lap for hours and hours soaking up the high energy, creative environment with excitement.”

‘She was an inspiration to us all’

“As Abby grew older, she was an inspiration to us all with her athleticism, strength, fearlessness, creativity and, ironically, her zest for life,” her mom said. “Abby had a wicked sense of humor, had fierce friendships, and always had so much love to give others. She was a ray of sunshine to all who met her.”

Abby continued to be that ray of sunshine on the outside, even though she was eventually diagnosed with clinical depression. Although she had talk therapy and was supervised with medication, Abby took her own life earlier this year.

“Abby obviously struggled on the inside, and that one act of was so out of character, so sudden, it sent us all reeling,” Gillian said. “It's complicated and we will never completely understand.

It's a mental illness that carries a stigma that we now need to speak out about.

“Everyone has a loved one or knows someone who suffers from depression,” her mom said. “Let's talk freely about it. Let's erase the stigma about depression and educate our students, our community."

The scholarship

Abby turned in an assignment to her English teacher before school ended on the day before she passed away. It was a “Bucket List,” and the list included this item — “HELP OTHERS IN A BIG WAY.”

Candidates for the Abby Anderson Scholarship Fund at Trumbull High School will be inspirational in their determination to “help others in a big way.”

“They will be cheerleaders in life and show dedication that is representative of the ideals Abby emulated so well during her short life,” Gillian said.

Learn more about PACC

The Performing Arts Center of Connecticut at 18 Lindeman Drive in Trumbull offers classes in the arts. Fund out more at