No. 6: 40 Never Looked So Good: An interview with Sylvana Christopher, JOMDC faculty since 2005, and 40th Anniversary Faculty Honoree
JOMDC opened its doors 40 years ago! We’ve held thousands of classes in our studios, schools and community centers throughout the region. We’ve met fantastic people over the years and eleven years ago we met Sylvana Christopher! Sylvana is a native Washingtonian performer, choreographer, and teacher. She has traveled the world to study dance in Cuba, France, and Senegal, and has performed in Mexico and Germany. Sylvana co-founded Glade Dance Collective, a highly active modern company that performs regularly in the DC area. You can find Sylvana teaching drop-in adult modern and Afrobeat every week at JOMDC. Click here to see the Glade Dance Collective performance calendar. http://gladedance.org/
- At what point did you realize that JOMDC would be a second home for you and for your teaching career?
I realized JOMDC would be a home for me when I began to grow close relationships with the families of the baby ballerinas and jazz/tap dancers that I taught every Saturday morning.
- Our mission is very clear: Dance is for Everyone. How has your life changed personally and professionally over the years while teaching to this mission?
While teaching this mission at JOMDC I experienced many personal changes. But through my personal experiences and notably the formation of my collective, Glade Dance Collective, I’ve grown more confident as a teaching artist. The JOMDC mission, Joy of Motion staff, and the students made it possible for me to have a place to concentrate my passion for dance.
- 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?
The greatest opportunity I had was instructing over 300 people at the Kennedy Center in an Afrobeat dance class of my own design. It was remarkable!
- Describe what giving the opportunity to take free dance classes means to you.
Being offered reduced or free dance classes was how I came to be a dancer! Without the opportunity to begin dance classes in this way, I would not have been able to receive continued training at the Washington Ballet, Ohio State, and numerous summer programs along the east coast and abroad.
- What are some lessons getting older has taught you? About life? About love? About dance? About business?
I’ve learned how much I appreciate moving with intention, grace, and fluidity. I learned I like to move slowly. I’ve learned that love is so essential and being around people who know how to express it makes a world of difference. I learned that as an artist I must wear many hats and the “business hat” is a tough one for me to wear, but by reaching out to my colleagues, I can gain insights into how others keep track, stay afloat, and earn respect. I’ve learned that one of my best tools is to remember people’s names and I’ve learned I love to help bring up the underdog.
Don’t miss Faculty Honors featuring Sylvana Christopher 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 Sylvana Christopher.
What is the most fun classroom memory you have of Sylvana? Leave her a comment below!