40th Anniversary Blog Series: No 3. Miya Hisaka

No 3.  40 Never Looked So Good: An interview with Miya Hisaka, JOMDC faculty since 1984, 40th Anniversary Faculty Honoree, and the Founder/Producing Artistic Director of the DC CONTEMPORARY DANCE THEATRE performing at the Gala

It wasn’t just yesterday that JOMDC opened its doors – it was 40 years ago! We’ve held thousands of classes and taught hundreds of thousands of students. We’ve met some exceptional people over the years, and Miya Hisaka is one of them.  Each week you can find Miya in the studios with exuberant adult ballet dancers who are committed to taking class with her! In addition to her weekly drop-in classes with us, Miya is the Founder/Artistic Director of DC Contemporary Dance Theatre/El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea, teaches at Catholic University, and is a certified Somatics/Pilates personal trainer.  Miya has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution, Central American Olympics, Washington School of Ballet, Cleveland Clinic’s Art & Medicine Institution, Ministry of Education of El Salvador, and Santa Clara University, among others.  She is an Arts Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts as well as a recipient of numerous DC’s Mayor’s Arts Award beginning in l986, and most recently was the recipient of the University of San Francisco’s Jesuit Fellowship.  Miya has transformed communities, professionals, and novice dancers alike over the years, and she continues to do so at Joy of Motion Dance Center because of her strong passion for dance and belief that Dance is For Everyone®!

  1. At what point did you realize that JOMDC would be a second home for you and for your teaching career?

When I first started teaching at Joy of Motion Dance Center in l984, I knew this is where I would hang my hat for many years because I shared the same artistic vision as Michelle Ava, Founder of JOMDC – to make dance accessible to EVERYONE.  At the Joy of Motion Dupont Circle Studio, I began a 32 year commitment to teaching adult dancers, children, and those with special needs.  To this day I maintain this artistic commitment as faculty at JOMDC.

  1. Our mission is very clear: Dance is for Everyone®. How has this mission impacted your life? Personally? Professionally?

As Founder/Artistic Director of one of DC’s first multicultural concert repertory dance companies, DC Contemporary Dance Theatre/El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea, JOMDC has provided a home to me and my dancers since l989. DC Contemporary Dance Theatre/El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea was one of JOMDC’s first Resident Arts Partners and JOMDC provided free rehearsal space which helped provide stability and longevity on a professional and personal level. The organization has provided me continuity and access to teaching a large audience of my adult students in ballet and modern. JOMDC together with my company, have helped shape the past 35 years of my professional life.  

  1. JOMDC is all about education and opportunity. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten more opportunities–after 40 years in the business, the White House calls us now! What is the greatest opportunity you’ve received through JOMDC?

One of the greatest opportunities that I’ve had through JOMDC was the ability to work with Douglas Yeuell and create very unique adult dance programs, such as JOMDC’s former Resident Adult Ballet Company, Classical Repertory Dance Theatre (CRDT).  The adult student-based company grew over a five year period to over 28 members and was able to work with amazing faculty, staff, and guest artists such as Cuban virtuoso Fidel Garcia (DTH, National Ballet of Cuba).

  1. Describe what free dance classes mean to a person with a passion for dance but lacks the means.

In addition to my Company’s many outreach and youth leadership programs, we love collaborating and performing in JOMDC’s Motion Expressions Concert series, where we have reached  hundreds of children who may not have had the means to see live dance performances.  Seeing dance for the first time, and being part of this kind of exuberant experience, I know is life changing. TO SEE IS TO BELIEVE, and experiences like this, I know change people’s lives in a profound way. It instills hope, a sense of peace and develops human dignity. My commitment is to expose people to dance that reflects the human spirit, and with the hope to inspire in people the ability to dream!

  1. What is the greatest lesson getting older has taught you about life?

Dance can be the most centering, healing pillar in one’s life, if you allow it to be. It can keep you strong and together through many of life’s most difficult challenges. Dance can help maintain one’s spiritual and physical balance. Dance is about community, about support, and about sharing.  Regardless of their technical level and even if they started dancing yesterday or 10 years ago, my commitment to teaching eager adults students is what my life is about!

Don’t miss Miya Hisaka’s Company, DC Contemporary Dance Theatre/El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea, performance and her honors on stage at the 40th Anniversary Gala Concert and Disco Dance Party on Friday, March 11, 2016, 7:30pm.

Join us on March 11, 2016, as we honor Miya Hisaka.


What is your fondest memory of Miya Hisaka? Leave her a comment below!