Outreach and Community Presence

My name is Joanna Paul and I am the Dance and Music Academy/Trifecta Dance Collective’s Director of Outreach and Community Presence. As an undergraduate student at Indiana University, I gained my Bachelors in Science and Kinesiology with an emphasis in contemporary dance. After spending a few years in Indiana and New York, a door opened in 2012 and I moved to Chicago to pursue performance opportunities within the Chicago dance community. Soon after, I began teaching classes at DMA. The strongly bonded staff and commitment to building up leaders in the community made a unique culture that I felt ecstatic to be a part of. Today, I not only teach at the Dance and Music Academy and dance with the Trifecta Dance Collective, I have also assumed the role of Director of Outreach and Community Presence. I work to connect our dancers and art to students at DMA, our communities, and diverse audiences.

In 2016, I embarked on a service volunteer trip repairing water wells in the Amazon. It was beautiful to see this work make such a direct impact on the society we served, yet difficult to connect it back to my own Chicagoland area community. Trifecta Dance Collective invited me to set a piece on the company for our February show, and encouraged me to use my experience serving in the Amazon as my inspiration for the piece.  I remember having a conversation during the rehearsal process with Krissie Odegard Geye, owner of Dance and Music Academy, and founder of Trifecta Dance Collective.  We both felt pushed to use our art and artistry not just for ourselves-to make something we enjoyed watching that challenges our dancers-but to consider our audience and how we want to inspire them, move them, challenge them, uplift them.  As dancers, we see the world through a particular lens, often feeling and experiencing things viscerally and intrinsically.  We started to ask, what if we use this lens to highlight so much more than virtuosity and technique?  What if we could connect our dance students to more outreach and service opportunities? What if we created a position designed to connect DMA and Trifecta with organizations in our communities and find ways to use our unique gifts and resources to serve, empower and uplift?   

Connecting artists to service experiences deepens purpose and artistry, no matter where you are. At DMA and with Trifecta Dance Collective, we hold high the value of community outreach because we hope to break the norm.

This is the experience we hope to give our dancers, both at DMA and through Trifecta Dance Collective. With two locations, competitions, student dance companies, a non-profit residence, the volume of opportunities allows dancers and staff to grow together as artists and human beings. You can find your individual interest of dance and performing in the studio while mutually growing as a strong community.

Dancers gain a different perspective once they experience performance through community outreach. Bonding service and dance can open our students' eyes to the potential their passions hold. Art tells stories. Stories invoke reminders of a community's own narrative. To bridge the gap between art and society through shared experiences, we as dancers have the potential to create change. We will serve as both a platform and a catalyst for this change to begin.

We recognize that art is powerful. Not only do we want to demonstrate strong technique and artistry, we strive to connect diverse communities in an honest way with our art and performance. People recognize something in artistic movement that cannot be verbalized. We hope to be the force that pushes audiences to realize the messages of our movement and moves them to create change.