Choreographer and educator Jai Hinson is the founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Arts 4 Life Academy, located in Clearwater, FL. She has been engaged with cultural and performing arts for over 40 years and for nearly three decades years has shared her gifts and talents with the youth and families of the Tampa Bay Area. Jai has made working with youth her life’s mission.
Ms. Hinson has performed with many renowned and internationally associated artists, choreographers and institutions, and has earned a master’s degree in Human Services Administration from Springfield College. Born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, Jai began studying ballet at Thompson’s Dance Studio in Newark at the age of nine. She received a dance scholarship at the Dance Theater of Harlem and studied under the direction of Russian Ballet Master, Karl Shook and DTH founder, Arthur Mitchel. She also studied ballet, modern jazz, and ethnic dance under choreographers such as Leo Palmieri, Fred Benjamin, Pepsi Bethel, Tommy Johnson, and Alvin Ailey. She has performed with Ladji Camara from Les Ballet African company, Chuck Davis of Chuck Davis Dance Company, Youssouf Koumbassa of the Djoli Ballet, Marie Basse-Wilkes of the Senegalese Ballet and Moustapha Bangoura of the Guinea Ballet.
Ms. Hinson was the recipient of many community awards including the Bank of America’s “Local Hero Award”, Delta’s Arts and Letters Award, Studio 620 Honors, 2014 Women of Distinction, and many more. Jai also received the Pinellas County Arts Council ARF grant, which enabled her to receive intensive study at the LeBagatae School with Moustapha Bangoura in Guinea, West Africa. She has also been featured on several TV shows such as “Good to Know”, “What’s Right with Tampa Bay”, and “News Channel 13 Special Feature”. Her choreographed productions include, “Dances from the Motherland” and “From African and Beyond” with the PATH, and she appeared in John Singleton’s “Rosewood”.
As Founder and Executive Director of ARTZ 4 Life Academy, Jai created programs such as an after school out-of-school time program, Explore the ARTS summer camp, BeTrue to You (BT2U) Gender Specific program for girls, Young Gents Gender-Specific program for boys, Each-One-Teach-One community outreach program, The Imani Dancers Children Performing Arts Ensemble, and Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet young adult performing group. For eight years, she was a performer and choreographer for LaVern Reed’s “Chocolate Nutcracker” Production and became the producer and presenter at the Mahaffey Theater for eight years.
Hinson is the Founder and Artistic Director for Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet, whose riveting performances have been seen at many universities, theaters, conferences, and performance venues throughout the United States. She established Dundu Dole in 1991 and incorporated Life Force in 1997 as a non-profit organization in order to promote performing arts, cultural competence, educational enhancement, and diversity programs throughout the Tampa Bay community. Those who have been part of Jai Hinson’s programs have been inspired and benefited from the education and experiences that nurtured their talents, taught them skills, and built the self-confidence and resiliency needed to set higher goals and succeed in their lives.