Apr 20, 2021
This week on 5.6.7.EIGHT, Aleksandra speaks with Alysia Johnson — a dancer at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, a co-founder of Black Dance Change Makers, an entrepreneur, a thought-leader, and so much more. A Dallas native, Alysia has been dancing at a competitive level since the age of twelve and ultimately enrolled at The Juilliard School, where she earned a BFA in Dance. While getting her degree, Alysia developed an affinity for community engagement and secured two grants to help create dance education for students and parents in the Dallas area. As mentioned, she is co-founder of Black Dance Change Makers, which seeks to empower Black artists.
Alysia’s early exposure to providing dance education to others has given her a genuine love and appreciation for teaching and teachers. At the early age of 19, she was tasked with recruiting quality educators to work at the dance schools that she founded in Dallas and, from then on, has maintained a healthy respect for the art of teaching the art. On the podcast, Johnson speaks to the respect she holds for those who bear the great responsibility of handing down arts from generation to generation.
"I had lots of amazing mentors and teachers growing up. And through that, I started to understand the power and responsibility of teachers. And I thought, 'This is what I want. I want to help people and share my knowledge.'"
"It's important to me to have dance teachers who aren't just in it to make a living but who also enjoy it and understand the responsibility they have. Because dance is powerful."
"When starting a business, matter who is on your side, get down to the purpose of what you're doing. If it's necessary and you can do it out of a spirit of generosity and joy, then I think you should do it, no matter what."
"There's no room for doubt on your job application — it's the time to believe in yourself."
"Yes, you are auditioning for this company or that school. But you're also auditioning them — seeing if they're the right fit for you. That takes some of the power dynamic out of auditions."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:48: Alysia explains how she landed in Chicago and why she’s enjoyed the city thus far.
5:22: Alysia discusses her work as a teacher and philanthropist, bringing dance to communities that may not be exposed to the art.
10:27: Alysia describes being an entrepreneur in the arts world and shares some advice for anyone looking to start their own business.
14:26: Johnson discusses the nonprofit organization that she has co-founded and its mission to empower Black artists.
18:20: Johnson describes her unique relationship with famed ballet dancer Misty Copeland, which blossomed when she moved to New York to attend The Juilliard School.
23:48: Alysia shares some tips for any dancers preparing for auditions and gives a story of where her under-preparation nearly led to a major life redirection.
29:59: Johnson gives some advice on acclimating to a new dance company and a new city.
35:31: Alysia speaks to her future and shares what’s next on the horizon for her, in 2021 and beyond.
Bullet List of Resources –
Black Dance Change Makers