SKYPE Session: Dance Mom from Maryland Creates Resourceful Conversations
Families with young dancers can relate to this dance mom; especially if the young dancer is highly active in conferences, summer intensive workshops and daily rehearsals. Aiyda Evans is the dance mom from Baltimore, MD that can be found on social media sharing informative posts about what’s going on in the dance community and special youth programs. Ms. Evans has a fifteen year old daughter by the name of Sage Sarai, who just recently attended the 2018 International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference and Festival in Los Angeles, CA.
Her daughter Sage dances for Ballet Nouveau School in Baltimore, which is owned by Kristen Stevenson, who’s a graduate from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Ballet Nouveau School is the first black owned ballet conservatory in the state of Maryland. Sage currently attends George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson, Maryland. The dance department is directed by Dance Department Chair, Maria Royals and Dance Instructor, Stephanie Powell. Ms. Evans’s teenager teaches dance to younger kids and dances approximately thirty to forty hours a week.
“Dance is our family’s whole life, and we have to make sacrifices for Sage to go after her dreams the way she does. When she was two years, she called herself a princess ballerina. She used to watch ‘Angelina Ballerina’ on television, and she’s stuck with that story for thirteen years straight,” said dance mom, Aiyda Evans.
This is Ms. Evans’s and Sage’s third year seeking out scholarships and intensive training programs for the summer. They started three summers ago when she first attended the Debbie Allen Dance Academy. The dance mom had no idea what this journey would entail-- considering how much resources would go into it, what was expected and what was considered the standard in the dance community. It was quite stressful for her. They got through it, and it was an awesome experience for her daughter. At the end of the intensive training experience, Sage realized there’s so many people who love to dance, have the ability to dance, but just don’t receive the same opportunities as others simply because they don’t have the money. She thought it was unfair that most aren’t able to dream of becoming a dancer due to financial burdens.
It was time to do something about that. Out of that conversation between Sage and her mother formed a nonprofit called Dance Dreams of Maryland. With this nonprofit, they are attempting to seek out, create, raise revenue, scholarships, funding, resources and opportunities for families of young dancers who have the dream, the desire, the skill or wants to learn the techniques necessary to become a dancer. Ms. Evans’s social media audience has a lot to do with being a dance mom for the last thirteen years.
“In the dance community, we’ve kind of gotten into the habit of not sharing with each other and seeing each other as competition and I’d like to really push back against that in the dance community. If Sage doesn’t get the opportunity, then I’d want to see her friend get the opportunity,” explained Ms. Evans.
Dance Moms and Dads of Maryland is an online community information hub on Facebook developed by Ms. Evans to share information. In this portal, parents encourage other dance moms and dads to put shows, fundraisers and training information in the group. This is a space where parents in Maryland can support each other as a dance community in anyway.
Summer intensive announcements are spreading all across social media platforms. Ms. Evans provided a few tips for moms and dads who are approaching summer intensive auditions with their children:
Prepare all year long for audition season: research, ask questions to other dance moms/families, because all programs are different. Find teachers and dancers who have been to some of the places that you’re looking at and ask about their experiences. Be informed as much as possible.
Put away money: save money and use the dance community as a network for sponsors and scholarships.
Alternatives: Talk teachers and experienced about alternatives just in case your child’s first option is not successful.
Be realistic about what you can afford: go to programs where scholarships are a possibility.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Dance Dreams of Maryland, how to donate and get involved.