PORTRAIT OF AN ARTS ADVOCATE
Q: How did you participate in the arts as a child?
A: I grew up in the Columbus area, and my parents started me in dance lessons when I was a child. I also took theatre, singing, and magic classes. Performing arts is what I grew to love. I am so fortunate that as a professional dance artist (performer, choreographer and teacher), I can do what I love and it’s my career!
Q: Describe your favorite “a-ha moment” in arts education.
A: My work with The Dancing Wheels Company & School as a professional dancer and as an outreach instructor allows me to spread our message of disability awareness and inclusion on many levels. It’s always rewarding to witness a young person realize that a person with a disability isn’t disabled, she is just differently abled.
Q: How do you practice creativity in your own life and / or what inspires you?
A: I am inspired by seeing other professional dance artists excel at their craft, whether it be in the studio, classroom or on stage and I strive to be, create, educate and inspire at the highest level for me.
Q: Name one puzzle, or problem, you are working on in the field right now.
A: A person in a wheelchair will find it difficult, nearly impossible I might add, to obtain a degree in dance from an establishment of higher education. There are a small number of teachers who can accommodate physically integrated dance within their course of study. At Dancing Wheels, we believe that by broadening the base of teachers who are apt to teaching physically integrated dance, we can accommodate more students with and without disabilities within our studios and classrooms
Q: Name an arts educator who impacted you and how they influenced your younger days.
A: I have all of my dance teachers from childhood through college and at present as a professional in my field to thank. When I was very young, my teachers at Columbus Parks and Recreation and Powell Ballet kept dance classes fun and entertaining. At Columbus Youth Ballet, I further developed the love of dancing with such a broad spectrum of classes and a diverse cast of teachers showing me what all there is out there to do. At times when I seemed broken, both physically and emotionally, my teachers at Columbus Dance Theatre proved to be a huge support in my life. For helping to develop me as a person and as a dancer, and for influencing my teaching ability/persona now, I am deeply grateful to my teacher mentors.
Q: What can the average person do to advocate for more and / or stronger arts education in local schools?
A: Since we know that the arts in learning provide benefits such as academic achievement, critical thinking skills, and social and emotional development, then continue to integrate arts in education. Bring artists into your schools to work with teachers in enhancing the learning process through the arts.
Portrait of an Arts Advocate is a monthly feature profiling an OAAE member active in advocating for arts education in Ohio. If you would like to submit your information or recommend an #artsed advocate to us, email email@example.com.