Interview with Karisma Jay
Posted on August 16 2016
So a while ago I "bumped" into a very intersting personallity, and at the moment I heard about her I just knew that I HAD to interview her and make sure you all know that name, so I'm proud to introduce you to Karisma Jay-Creator and Aritstic Director of the "AbunDance Academy" which is located in Brooklyn :)
oh! and don't forget to check her profiles @iamkarismajay & @abundancebk
- Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I began my intensive dance training, under the direction of Yousouff Koumbassa, while visiting Guinea West Africa for the first time at the tender age of two. I always had love for dance, even from that young age and since then I moved on to study Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop and Tap. I took my love for dance and performance and ended up attending the esteemed “Fame” school, The School for the Performing Arts at LaGuardia High School in New York City which is known for graduating a number of famous names in the performing arts world. I graduated as a16-year-old senior with honors then began training privately in Ballet and apprenticing with Ronald K. Brown/ Evidence. During my time off, I researched universities where my academic and artistic interests would be deepened and discovered NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study, from where I ultimately graduated. From there, I have toured as part of the Broadway show, “Stomp” and performed and taught with a number of dance companies in many styles.
- Could you tell us the story behind AbunDance Academy?
I started AbunDance Academy two years ago with the hopes of inspiring and training the next leaders of tomorrow while still performing and training, myself. That way, instead of teaching after my career, I'm teaching and leading by example, in pure form and in real time. The vision then expanded and includes me not only teaching and choreographing but also writing, directing and producing my own adaptations to the stories I grew up emulating. This past June, I wrote an adaptation of "Annie" where Annie grew up to become the first female Black president! Fun times indeed and we presented the show at the fabulous Kings Theatre in my hometown of Brooklyn.
The idea of AbunDance Academy of the Arts was also born out of my own experience growing up. I was raised by my mother who was a performing artist and saw the value and power that can be derived from the arts. She always encouraged me to follow my passion for dance and did whatever she could to provide me with high quality, professional education. I realized soon after I entered the professional world of dance that there weren’t that many people that looked like me or shared my multi-cultural (Afro-Latina, to be exact) heritage and I began to wonder why. The first thing I could think of was the high barrier to entry for dancers and the performing arts in general. To enter the field requires not just talent and dedication but there is also a high cost element. Everything from classes and shoes to dance intensives and leotards; they all cost money. I wanted to do what I could by offering truly affordable classes to people of all ages so that they could pursue their dream of dancing. In doing so, I really hope to inspire and mentor the next Misty Copeland or Judith Jamison.
- Is there a special reason why you've named it AbunDance?
In AbunDance, there's Dance! Literally and figuratively. When thinking about what to name my school and that would epitomize my approach to life, the word AbunDance captures the true essence of my belief system.
- Where do you see AbunDance in 10 years?
In ten years, I hope AbunDance will be a global, household name. A true academy of the arts, with all art forms housed in a state of the art Arts building.
- What made you realize you want to teach dance?
I love to dance and have a natural knack and love for kids. I am also very nurturing and intuitive by nature. As a "math girl," problem solving is my thing! Put all those things together and viola! Teaching dance, for me, is a no brainer that suits my talent and interests in a perfect way.
- What was the main challenge you've stumbled upon the way ( if there were any ) to becoming a dance teacher?
The more support a student has at home the better equipped the student is to succeed in the arts. Years ago, pursuing a career in the arts seemed intangible and unrealistic so parents would operate as if dance classes were frivolous. As a person who has built a career in the arts I take instruction very seriously and realize that it is more than just dance. Changing that perception has been a challenge that I think most instructors have had to deal with. However when parents see the level of dedication and focus that it takes to succeed in this field and how it is applicable to every aspect of their child’s life, that is a major accomplishment for me.
- What was the most exciting thing that happened to you upon the way to becoming a dance teacher?
Watching my students GET IT! There is nothing more satisfying than the process of teaching and through encouragement and time winessing that light bulb go off in a student’s head. It is really exhilarating when all of a sudden it all comes together for them and manifests itself in movement. I have been teaching for most of my life and it is so rewarding to see some of my first students (ever) manifesting their dreams and Manifesting their own Abundance in the world of dance.
- What's your MUST have dance product in your bag?
ARNICA! Tablets, gel, cream. It is a must for any dancer to deal with the wear and tear that comes with the profession.
- What's your favorite style of dance? And why?
I love all types of dance but I have a very deep connection to African dance since I started learning it in Africa at the ripe age of two. In my adult years, Ballet has become one of my go-tos. I am frequently captivated by the intense workout and the grace and effortlessness that are demanded of the art form.
- What do you wish for AbunDance?
I wish everyone in the world finds a way to access their own AbunDance. The world has so much to offer all of us and we deserve the opportunity to maximize that AbunDance. I wish for this philosophy to inspire my students so that they can take not just the practical lessons that we teach at the school but also apply the attitude of openness and spirit of learning that comes with being a student and apply it to all aspects of their life.
- Fun facts!!!
Favorite food? A very good Salad, homemade of course!
Favorite color? Orange or Gold
Most played song on your iPhone? Probably some version of Ballet barre music since Im always teaching Ballet somewhere!
Favorite city in the world? It's a tie between Barcelona and Paris