Jovahna started in the Everybody Dance! program about 14 years ago. She will major in dance at UCLA this upcoming Fall to continue her dance education and pursue her future goals. Here are some insights from Jovahna about her journey.
How did you get started at Everybody Dance!?
When I was little I loved to dance to whatever music my parents were playing around the house. My dad came across Everybody Dance when he was picking my mom up from work one day. Everybody Dance! was very affordable for my family who has always lived in a low-income community; compared to a lot of dance companies in LA that are too expensive. My dad enrolled me at Everybody Dance before I was four years old. I began to take pre-ballet classes once I turned four and have been learning more than one dance form since then.
What are some highlights of dancing with the program?
One highlight was when I went to the White House with Liza Bercovici and Carol Zee. It was an eye-opening experience that made me believe that a little brown girl could achieve and set big goals for herself.
Another important highlight was getting the opportunity to be in Ms. Katie’s contemporary class before she left the program. She changed my perspective on the way I dance and how I dance. She was very humble and always kept me in check. She introduced me to being spiritually in touch with myself when I dance and staying aware of when I need to take care of my body.
What are some challenges that you overcame?
One challenge was learning to let go. Although the program did help me learn to be independent, I was really attached to teachers and students that I looked up to who later left the program. It was difficult to adjust and not see them every week anymore. I was young, but as I grew up I understood that people come and go and that I would eventually leave the program as well. This made me understand that I had to set an example for the younger ones in the program as I grew up. I did my best to be authentic when I danced to show my peers that they could truly use dance as an outlet and be vulnerable. This challenge built the independence that I have now.
Can you share the motivations that kept you dedicated to the program?
I gained a lot of independence when I was in Everybody Dance! I took care of my training and learned to differentiate my relationships in a class setting and outside of the classroom with my peers and teachers. The thing that kept me going back was the constant reminder of the youth and purely just the program. I want to create a platform with goals similar to Everybody Dance!, for people of color who struggle in low-income communities. I loved to watch the little ones grow and to have the smile on their faces remain throughout their journey in Everybody Dance! I believe that art impacts the youth’s lives and I am looking forward to sharing it with others.
What are you looking forward to and your goals at UCLA?
I really look forward to learning the history of where a lot of dance forms came from as well as moving forward to a new chapter in life. I think attending UCLA will keep me educated so I know what movements I have to make for my future. I am excited to meet new people who have similar goals as I do to build something in the future.