What has to happen for them to Stay?

Hello Fellow Artist,

When I launched my campaign for JTF I spoke a little about the professional dance world or lack of here in St. Petersburg. I was blessed to grow up in a community that supported the education of young dancers, however when it comes to thriving as a professional dance artist, we have a long way to go. After studying in New York City and returning back to my hometown, I believe that part of my purpose and desired obligation is to help build the professional dance community right here where it all started for me.

As a young dancer St. Pete consisted of a hand full of privately owned dance studios that offered pretty decent dance training from ballet, jazz, hip hop and tap dance. Most students were pretty loyal to the studio they attended and I believe it went without saying that the studio owners didn’t try to “steal” each other’s students. This caused the local dance scene to operate in peace and allowed for each studio to continue providing the opportunities for their students to gain exposure, at least that was how I viewed things from a my young dancer mentality.  There many opportunities for a dance student to perform with their studio and from time to time someone came in to produce community projects that allowed the students to have a different experience than what they were use to. The public school provided the dancers with similar exposures, which was great but once a dancer went through the journey of the arts magnet programs and all their private studios had to offer, then what? Everyone left to go off to colleges far away to study dance in BFA programs and dance professionally else where. What about St. Pete?

I went this route as well, and don’t get me wrong I was ready to leave St. Pete the minute I graduated High School. Two weeks after I walked that stage I was on the first flight to New York City that I could find. NYC  the mecca of dance, oh man there is no place like it. Fast Forward to present day and here I am finding it difficult to get folks to audition and attend master classes. It makes me question the dance arts scene here in St. Pete, supporters of  dance, local dancers, parents of the young dancers, the public and higher learning school institutions and even question myself. I believe it’s an issue across the board when it comes to dance. There are many of us who left after HS, danced professionally and then came back to take on this assignment as well.  This blog is not me trying to provide a solution but putting the thought and conversation out there. How can we change this? What has to happen for those that are done with their pre professional training to stay here and not only work as a dance artist but thrive as a professional dance artist?

I believe I am exploring this right now in my life with the work that I am aiming to do through Journey to Freedom. We shall find out.

Thank you all for taking the time out to read my blog and don’t forget to like my new Facebook Page @JTFMovement

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