Dear Mr. Corey,

You are extraordinary in every way, and your talents never cease to inspire and bring joy to both your dancers and your Mobile Ballet audiences. I can say with absolute certainty that you have had the most profound influence on my life.

In the ballet world, most directors, like you, were world-class dancers themselves. Many of them, like you, are excellent teachers. There is something particularly unique about you, though.

Your heart and your passion for the art of ballet is so apparent in the way you communicate with your dancers and in the spectacular productions you stage. You challenge your students with an encouraging expectation of excellence, and you positively instill discipline and work ethic through your consistent teaching, coaching and rehearsing. Perhaps the most special of all is that you make your dancers feel beautiful.

Many little girls grow up dreaming of being a ballerina, and for your “babies,” you make those dreams come true. Now that I am a parent and a ballet teacher, I am all the more in awe of what you did for me AND the WAY you did it. You taught me how to make each moment and each movement special.

Along with proper ballet technique, you taught me about the beauty in still moments, how to walk beautifully, how to use my arms expressively. You gave me opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. I still carry “Lucy” in my heart, and I savored every step of “Dracula’s” creative process. What you bring to Mobile, Alabama, is so very special.

I thank you for helping me to become a professional dancer, and for encouraging me and coaching me every step of the way. You have shared in my joyous moments and have shown such compassion in hard times. You are a giver, and that’s one of the many things that make you special.

I am but one of many who has been a recipient of all that you have given and continue to give. You are one of a kind, and I thank God for putting you in my life. You have made it richer in all the ways that count most. I, along with the rest of the ballet world, will always celebrate you and support you. And I will always be proud to say that I was one of “your babies!”

With utmost respect, admiration, gratitude and love,

Katherine Thompson

Dear Mr. Corey,

Thirty years ago I took a class of high-school students to see the very first “Nutcracker” ballet that you created as the new leader of Mobile Ballet. It was pure magic, so I jumped at the chance a few years later when you offered adult ballet classes.

I put my 40-year-old body into a leotard and went to Mobile Ballet, not remotely imagining that I would participate in 13 years of “The Nutcracker” and other ballets. Eventually my dance muscles came back into shape, but I found that ballet doesn’t only change the body, it greatly enriches the spirit. So on the occasion of your 30th anniversary, this is a letter of gratitude.

Gratitude for your amazing creativity: Your choreography and original ballets leave us speechless for their soul-touching beauty and inventiveness. Your inner vision translates itself into glorious art.

Gratitude for your inclusiveness: From the youngest dancers to adults, to professional dancers from Russia to New York, you work with, teach and direct everyone and somehow make it look easy.

Gratitude for the beauty of your designs: You almost singlehandedly created a design house within the ballet to produce stunningly beautifully designed, ethereal creations for the dancers to wear on stage — a lavish feast for the eyes.

Gratitude for your gracious instruction: One has only to look at the Mobile Ballet alumni who have become professionals to realize that it was you who made this possible. While you insisted that every dancer give every fiber of their being to performances, you also gave them the encouragement they needed to have wings to fly.

Gratitude for your vision: Through your guidance the ballet grew from a small two-room storefront studio into the beautiful facility and thriving center it is today.

It is almost impossible to put into words how very much you mean to our community.

It is rare to encounter a true genius in a lifetime, and I believe it is quite safe to assign this label to you. Congratulations again to you, Mr. Winthrop Corey, and thank you from the depths of my heart. You changed my life.

Susan Rouillier