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The Dying Swan

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

There's a ballet performance called The Dying Swan performed by a soloist who fought to live. Tiffany Glenn earned a starring role with ballet San Jose in California. It was an impressive accomplishment for any dancer, especially an African-American because few ever get awarded such marquee roles.

"She loved ballet.  She loved to dance. She loved that more than anything.  I know that," says Kevin Thomas with the Collage Dance Collective.

Glenn moved to Memphis to teach and to choreograph with Collage Dance Collective. The school teaches young African-American boys and girls classic ballet.

Her commitment to Memphis Children shared the stage with her fight against breast cancer as she explained in a YouTube video recorded during a Buddhist retreat in March.

"I always thought that if I got cancer that I would show people that it wasn't that bad," said Glenn.  

It was that bad. Chemotherapy robbed of her hair. Her moves became cautious but her commitment to art and her students remained fearless.

"I just thought she had a fly haircut," recalls dancer Jayme Stokes.

Despite temporarily fighting off the disease, it would return, sending her back to San Jose for treatment. But, the cancer returned, leaving her body weaker, but her determination stronger.

This past May, 33-year old Tiffany Glenn showed her students courage and displayed it on stage.

"This was her last dance, this was her last big dance," says Thomas

After her final performance and then she went home to Washington to die.

"Her legacy is the fact the collage is here.  It exists because of her.  Again, if it wasn't for Tiffany, I don't think Collage would be here," says Macellus Harper with the Collage Dance Collective.

A ballet historian wrote the dying swan creates the symbol of the everlasting struggle in this life and all that is mortal. Tiffany lived those words and taught it to the next generation of artists in Memphis.

Her words still resonate even after she has gone, "Everyone is going to die and we just don't know when.  The important thing is that we live to fullest, every moment, until the very last moment."

This weekend, Tiffany's friends and students at Collage Dance Collective will have benefit performance in her honor to help the school. For more information, click here.

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