Sharea Harris introduced a contemporary dance program to the residents of Charlotte, NC, while empha
"Basically, I seen a lack of teen programs for lower-income families. I wanted to provide those teens with an opportunity to do dance, and also be involved with the arts without breaking the bank for their parents."
Our program [fee] is registration, and after registration, they they don’t pay anymore,” said Harris.
“We provide them with yoga mats, because they do yoga. We also do meditation and journaling; so, we try to give all of them a little bit of all the arts. We have features coming. We have an international dance instructor coming, and he’ll be here on the 28th. He’s going to do a dance contest with them, so they can win prizes. Then, we have Bellah Model Agency coming in October, and [the modeling coach] she’s going to teach them how to walk—And it’s going to be a competition.
What we are doing, is providing the kids with as many arts as possible, to build their character, to build their drive, and create leaders. That is the program in a nutshell.”
Eternity Philops: Yoga Instructor/ First Day for JCI Legacy
As Harris stated passionately, the aim of the program isn't for financial gain. It's to get students involved while broadening their creative minds at the same time.
After presidential elections, our POTUS proposed fickle budget cuts to the senate that would directly impact the arts. Of course, this is a tragedy for many gateway kids who need an outlet for cultural expression.
While budget disparities is still a threat to the arts, it's ’s safe to say that JCI Legacy Dance Program is privately funded, so they probably aren't going anywhere no time soon.
Harris financed the project 100% while only giving parents the toll of a diminutive application fee, to get their bubbling kiddos enrolled.
It took the 37-year-old mother of three about two-years to piece together a solid team of highly qualified dance instructors, to facilitate her vision of bringing the arts into the community.
“I decided about two-years ago, that I actually wanted to do it. I started doing a lot of research of ‘what they have, what they don’t have, and what I can do for them.’ I had to save for it. I had to budget for it. I had to find choreographers, and a yoga instructor. I was all over the place; but it took about a year-and -a-half, and that’s when I started rolling everything out, and I started promoting for it, and getting the word out there so we could get some teams."
JCI Team/ Photo Credits JCI Legacy Dance Program
Each teammate was hand-selected for the program.
"I needed to see their energy because we are going to be dealing with teens. When I interviewed for the choreographers, I needed them to give me their energy freely."
Interesting, to say the least, Harris has a captivating desire to help children. Her altruism and nurturing behavior outweighs any doubts that parents may have.
Since we are capering on fun-facts, just know that dance programs in the area start at about forty-five-dollars to around two-hundred-and-fifty-dollars per month.
JCI Legacy Dance Program is offering about eight months worth of lessons for one application fee. In turn, students will learn reggae, ballet, hip hop and yoga.
Harris said that student’s will absorb integrity, poise, in addition to curriculum.
Those are everlasting traits and fundamentals that will carry them through growing pains, and many other experiences, all the days of their lives.
In case you’re wondering about Harris's credentials and the reason she’s so confident about the JCI Legacy Dance Program...
For starters, the charismatic instructor attended school for performing arts while living in Buffalo, New York-- She was a vocal major. Harris didn’t feel connected to singing, and even though she could carry a tune, nothing would satisfy her as much as pirouettes, and rhythmic whirls, so she drifted towards dance.
“Dance has always been an outlet for me, above, anything else. It gives me so much joy, and I just like to dance,” she whispered gleefully.
Harris is classically trained in ballet, but she loves a more flaunting genre.
“My favorite dance genre is reggae. I love reggae. I love the energy of reggae. I love the bass of reggae, and I love the freedom of expression. You can do anything with reggae, while incorporating other dance forms into the moves at the same time.”
"I moved to Charlotte from Buffalo in 2003, and when I moved down here, I did a couple plays at home. That’s what I did, I loved to write plays—well, I started with poetry, and from there, I started writing books.
At home [Buffalo], I knew everybody there, so it was easy for me to sellout a show—But I didn’t know if everybody liked it or if they came because it was just me. I needed the challenge. I looked everywhere that I could move, that was heavy on the arts. I checked out Charlotte and Atlanta... I moved here, to Charlotte.
The art district in Noda was amazing when I moved here. There was artist, and painters… It was a little community of artsy people, and it blew my mind. I loved it. I was drawn to it. I got in with them or whatever, and I did my first play. I did it at the 'Little Rock Cultural Center,' but back then, it was called, ‘The African American Cultural Center…' I sold out and it was amazing. It was the satisfaction that I needed. I wanted to know if I was good, or if they were just coming because it was me. I had people in the audience who were talking to my characters like they were real.”
Already entangled in the arts, Harris just needed to switch gears and really dedicate the time to her passion.
Harris also shared that she inspired so many people and young adults with her productions, and that is another reason she felt so moved to do the program.
“Teens flock to me, and I’m not sure of the reasons. I’m more aggressive than passive aggressive, and they love that! That’s what made me want to start the program—if I’m affecting teens like that, then I can help so many other girls so that they can be amazing, happy, and proud of themselves. Then, they will do if for somebody else.
With today’s generation, identifying yourself, knowing who you are, and loving who you are when you look in the mirror, and just knowing that you can do anything that crosses your mind– That’s what I want to give them. I want to give it all to them, and I want to see them flourish. That satisfaction is like nothing else that you could ever feel.”
Harris acknowledges her strengths as a playwright, but she says that training young women to be virtuous, that’s one of her principle purposes in life.
While we peg the subject of humility, Harris shared that she paid seventy-dollars per month for dance class for her own daughter, and that’s another rationale for her program.
She didn’t want parents to incur nauseating fees. Yes, she’s adamant about teaching kids dance, but Harris doesn’t want to burden parents that want to give their children other syllabus that’s beneficial to their education in addition to their careers.
Harris said that her dance methods allow children to open up more. Her program causes a positive disruption to stubborn behaviors, for kids that typically stay to themselves, or have a hidden spunk that's dying to get out.
“I think by building the character of the team, and building the confidence of the team, by challenging them in every way imaginable, its beneficial.
We’re going to have pop-up contest. They won’t know what’s going to happen. We’re just putting them out there in the forefront and making them accountable and responsible for everything they do. I think that, alone, builds a leader.
Automatically, you think about things before you do it. You plan things before you do it, because you know I’m coming for you, and you want to be on point when you do.
The goal is accountability, and I think that is a strong attribute for a leader, and that’s what I want. I want every, single, one of them to become leaders. For my students, I want them to learn to work together— I want them to believe in themselves. I think my main goal is for them to know who they are, and go for whatever crosses their mind."
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