Hey Movers! Welcome back to the Mentors that Move Me series! I hope you're enjoying the stories of these incredible women as much as we are! :)
Where do I even begin!?! If you remember from last week's blog post, Lashandra played a huge role in getting me accepted into the dance program at my high school. Now that I look back at it; it's almost as if she passed the baton over to my next mentor ever so smoothly. Let's take a look at how these paths crossed...
Once I got into the performing arts program at Pebblebrook high school, there was an audition for dance students to get into a summer intensive called DC NEXT. I've never heard of this program before then, and I was a beginner in ballet and modern technique, so I wasn't very confident in my skills at the time. However, I was determined to take in all of the dance training I could get; so I thought why not give it a shot?! Fortunately, I had been accepted into the program; and that summer marked the beginning of what I believe to be one of the most precious relationships I've gained in this dance industry. Angela Harris, the Executive Artistic Director of Dance Canvas and her lovely team taught me that there was so much more to dance than performance and choreography. Dance Canvas is a non-profit dance organization with a "mission to provide opportunities and venues to increase the awareness of professional dance in the metro Atlanta area". Through DC NEXT's program, I gained an appreciation for dance production, tech, sponsorship, marketing, sales and so much more.
After high school, I went on to become Angela's intern for Dance Canvas during my junior year of college, and from there I officially joined their family as Dance Canvas' administrative assistant for the next 3 years. The knowledge and experience I've obtained through serving this organization gave me a reason to believe that there was a place for me in this industry. Without her, I would still have only scratched the surface.
To the woman that helped me realize my gifts, I humbly introduce you all to the amazing Angela Harris!
Give us a brief introduction. Who are you, what is your profession and where are you from?
My name is Angela Harris and I am the founder and Executive Artistic Director of Dance Canvas, Inc. a non-profit organization for emerging professional choreographers and youth. I was a professional ballet dancer, originally from Baltimore, MD.
What are some things that you're passionate about? Hobbies? - What MOVES you?!
I am passionate about my family; traveling the world (because knowing other cultures enriches my life); and the arts.
How did you meet Jaslyn Harris, and what was your first impression of her?
I met Jaslyn when she was in 10th grade auditioning for Dance Canvas' youth summer program. She impressed us all with her drive and passion, and we accepted her as a student and worked with her that summer in our DC NEXT program. Jaslyn returned to work with us when she was a Junior at Kennesaw State University and she interned with us for a semester. We hired Jaslyn as our Administrative Assistant, and she worked with our organization for 3 years.
How did your mentor/mentee relationship progress overtime?
Jaslyn is hard-working and inquisitive, so she was always eager to learn how to make her next move. We talked about her future often and her career goals.
When your back is against the wall, and you feel like giving up, who or what, keeps you moving and pushing forward?
I am not afraid to fail...I hate failing...but I am not afraid to, so I trust my instincts and know that I can always come back from anything that feels hopeless. I also give myself a little time to watch bad tv. Nothing motivates me more than binging on a bad reality show and saying I can't watch this craziness anymore. LOL!
What is one quote that you would consider to be your Mantra?
There are too many to name...During COVID, I went on a motivational graphic t-shirt/sweatshirt buying binge...I mean, if I had to be on Zoom for hours, I might as well have some motivation. So, one shirt says "Ambitious"...another "Radiate Positivity"...and "Always say yes to things you love". Of course I have a "Mornings = Mimosas" t-shirt too! But, I have been rocking my "Phenomenal Woman" t-shirt on all of my Zoom panels!
Thank you so much for reading! This amazing superwoman came into my life during my sophomore year in high school, and has been a light ever since. I don't know if I ever told her, but I like to think of her as my "dance mom" lol. Seriously (I mean we have the same last name, so it's only right)! Even beyond our former work relationship, I always strive to make her proud. She has been THE leading example of what it means to be a professional in this industry and has always been there to give me great advice. Because of her and her legacy; I am determined to use my experience to support others in the arts through my brand. Every time I get discouraged and overwhelmed, I look to her and the amazing community she has built. As a mentor, a choreographer, a dance instructor, an executive artistic director, and so much more, Angela reminds me that dreams ARE possible! Thank you for being such an inspiration to myself and many others in the dance community. I will forever be grateful and will always continue to make you proud!
I hope Angela's story inspires you to keep moving; because the sky's truly the limit! Visit www.dancecanvas.com to learn more about her and her amazing non-profit dance organization. They hold many programs and events throughout the city of Atlanta year round, and I will always be proud to call them my family!
Tune in next week as we conclude this month's series with our fourth and final mentor! Do you think you can guess who it is? Fierce isn't even the word!