Updated: Mar 1, 2021
Our community’s biggest pride is the safe and joyful space that we create with one another using the universal language of movement. It is truly an honor every day, even in a virtual space through the obstacles this global pandemic brings, to move with one another. To grow stronger together. Rae Studios, along with all dance and wellness communities from all over the world, would not be who we are today, would not have been able to move forward and continue to move forward without the Black community. From the roots of the classes we teach, to our moves, our music, so much is indebted to the Black community. Rae Studios celebrates Black History today, tomorrow, and always.
Our Call to Action
Rae Studios is committed to sharing the stage and uplifting the voices of Black artists, entrepreneurs, and wellness educators. Throughout this month and beyond, we are highlighting Black dancers, business owners, teachers, coaches, and more that inspire members of our community.
Keep an eye out for our Instagram posts and newest additions to this blog post to hear from our instructors, learn about dance legends, studios from across the country, and even our newest friends on Clubhouse doing amazing work in the health and wellness world.
We are also proud to connect these stories and continue our partnership with City of Dreams. A non-profit organization in San Francisco dedicated to providing all kinds of amazing mentorship to underserved youth. We are sharing the artists, leaders, and teachers that have inspired us...so that we too can become the best artists, leaders, and teachers to inspire future generations.
Our Partnership with City of Dreams
In a joint effort with our team, Rae Studios Presented a dedication event: “Art and Unity” A Fundraiser in Honor of Black Lives Matter on Thursday, June 4th, 2020, from 5pm-9pm. A huge thank you to our friends, family, and supporters for making our first “Arts & Unity” Fundraiser in Honor of Black Lives Matter a huge success! Our benefit classes received 125 reservations, raising a total of $1492 and now with our EventBrite donations we reached our goal of raising $2000. With that, we decided to donate to City of Dreams! We are really excited to support City of Dreams as they provide mentorship and youth development for underserved communities.
In our continuous work cultivating safe creative spaces, we have the utmost gratitude and admiration for the incredible leaders at City of Dreams: Executive Director, Jaraé Clark, and City of Dreams Program Director Kareem Sykes, who do this every day with their youth.
Jaraé shared with us how important it is for youth to discover their own creative outlet and how City of Dreams encourages youth to express themselves: "[having a creative outlet] helps them explore who they are and what they like and they get to figure it out in a safe space. We do a variety of activities that hopefully speak to everyone. Encouragement when they are trying something new. By incorporating that into their mentor/mentee relationships and in their day to day activities."
"We inspire them to think outside of the box by pairing them with mentors from all walks of life to give them different perspectives," says Kareem. Kareem also emphasized how much they encourage young leaders to not give up, keep discovering themselves, and taking care of themselves too. Personally, Kareem loves to ride his bike and also garden. City of Dreams always strives to lead by example and constantly talk to their youth about what they like to do, try to make it happen for them, and give them an abundance of experiences.
Thank you Jaraé, Kareem, Dena, Clarissa and the whole @cityofdreamssf team for all that you do for the community.
When thinking about our work in dance and City of Dream’s commitment to youth, we would be remiss not to honor the late Arthur Mitchell (1934-2018). Arthur Mitchell was the first Black principal dancer of New York City Ballet. He danced in, choreographed, and directed many ballet companies and established the Dance Theatre of Harlem to provide youth the opportunity to dance and transform their lives. (artsandculture.google.com)
Katherine Dunham (1909-2006) is known as the matriarch of Black Dance. Katherine Dunham was an African-American dancer, choreographer, educator, anthropologist, and activist and directed her own dance company for many many years. (@blackdancehistory) She is also the creator of the Dunham Technique: a vibrant African American dance form that engages the body, mind and spirit informed by the traditional dances of the African Diaspora, as well as by modern and ballet.
We learned about the incredible Ajax Jackson from our friends @Mindbody and definitely want to show some love to Magnolia Yoga (@magnoliayogastudio)! Magnolia Yoga is the first Black-owned yoga studio in New Orleans and are a powerful community of anthropologists and social activists. Magnolia Yoga is committed to the healing and transformation of the Black community, diversity, inclusivity, and affordability. Rae Studios celebrates spaces like Magnolia Yoga today, tomorrow, and always.
Jade "Soul" Zuberi. Dancer and anti-racism educator. " @jadesoulzuberi dedicates his time and energy to educating the dance community (and beyond) about how we can actively "unlearn" the White supremacist ideologies ingrained in our society. Jade inspired me to examine the ways I teach Hip-Hop classes in respect to being a guest within Black culture." - Lexi (@lexinut7), Rae Studios Hip-Hop Grooves instructor.
Did you know Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949) is known as the father of Tap Dance? Robinson was not just a tap dancer...but an actor and singer, and was the most highly paid Black American entertainer in America during the first half of the 20th century. He is most famous for appearing in movies with Shirley Temple and a career of 14 films, 6 Broadway shows, and being the first Black solo performer to star on vaudeville circuits where he was a headliner for 4 decades!
Tyrone Proctor was a pioneer for Waacking/Whacking. In the words of Waacking/Whacking instructor Kristie (@waackiechan): "[Proctor] passed away in 2020 which was devastating for the Waacking community, but he lives on through the immortalized style he pioneered. Waacking/Whacking was started by Black and Latinx gay men in LA [as well as New York] clubs in the 70's. This was a time when being gay was considered taboo so these clubs were a safe space for gay men to express themselves and be accepted by community. These tenets still carry on today in Waacking/Whacking and were embodied so perfectly by Tyrone. My dance style is 100% indebted to his creation. Rest in power!"
The incredible Wilma Rudolph remains a beacon of hope for all BIPOC women athletes. Rudolph defied all odds; being diagnosed with Polio as a child, she was told she would never even be able to walk! She taught herself how to walk at 9 years old and grew up to be the very FIRST American to win 3 gold medals in track & field during a single Olympic games in 1960. She also broke the world record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.3 seconds!
The Rae Studios community is filled with powerful movement artists that inspire on and off the floor. Our very own Ashely Worley is just that. A veteran Rae instructor since 2018, @ashleyworley_ is beloved by all students and fellow instructors. "Dance is everything to me. It gives me and other movers a chance to tap into a Devine energy that takes over your body as soon as the music turns on. My community and supporters are everything. Without them, there is no Ashley Worley Choreography. I love teaching dance because I have the privilege to inspire and see growth in the movers that come to the class, creating a genuine relationship sharing the passion of dance together." You can take her heels classes and private lessons by booking directly on her website (ashleymworley.com), keep up with her and her dancers @alistsquad, and get to know her more through her YouTube channel: Ashley Monè! Ashley also has her own wellness brand @meraki.source that has amazing products such as Money Mindset Journals and more. We send Ashley and her family lots of extra love as she will be welcoming her second baby into the world very soon! Congratulations, Ashley!
In the beautiful words of our Rae Studios Cardio Jam, Cardio Fusion, Modern Dance, and Beginner Choreo instructor: “Dance and life go hand in hand. We do our best to make EVERY STEP COUNT! Being a Dancer, Choreographer, Fitness Instructor, gives me so much life. I love coming into a space where I know that only LOVE & positivity can exist. Whether it's in person or virtual I get EXCITED to share my passion for movement with all of my followers & supporters. Peace & Dance, Jeremy Jones.” Jeremy Jones Lawson is THAT teacher/choreographer dancers will ALWAYS remember. His light shines so bright and his energy and smile are contagious! It is always a party in Jeremy’s classes both in studio when we were open and in our virtual classes. Jeremy has a background in Modern Dance, HipHop, Cardio Dance, African, Ballet, Salsa, Musical Theatre, and Children’s Creative movement. He began his career as a dancer in Spring 2008 at the University of Memphis. Since then he has trained in different studios throughout the Memphis community. He joined Bridging Souls Production Dance Company (BSP) fall of 2010 under the direction of Tamara Parish and quickly became the Rehearsal Director. Jeremy has also performed in several productions such as the Regional Premier of “The Color Purple” By Alice Walker. Jeremy has also done significant work with different community leaders and national non-profit organizations and was even the Performing Arts Coordinator of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis. Lastly, Jeremy’s proudest accomplishment is being a dad to his two little girls Janie & Jordyn Lawson. We love you, Jeremy!
Like, comment, and reshare this with fellow movement artists! Do you want to share your own story and be featured on our socials? Or, do you want to highlight any Black creatives, business owners, or health teachers/coaches that have paved the way for you? Send an email to our Community Liaison, Trisha! (email@example.com)