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Scholarship Interview: Adrianne Ansley

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ADRIANNE ANSLEY, DANCER/CHOREOGRAPHIC ARTIST AND COMMNUNITY ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR IN NEW YORK CITY 

Adrianne Ansley was born and raised in Sarasota and is a graduate of the Booker High School VPA program. Awarded a FASS college scholarship in 2011, Adrianne attended Santa Fe College in Gainesville and then earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Florida State University, one of our country's top-rated universities for dance. Now, at the age of 26, Adrianne lives and dances in New York City. Adrianne's future as a dancer began when, as a third-grade student at Tuttle Elementary School, an after-school activity sign-up sheet caught her attention. The sign-up was for The Sarasota Ballet's program Dance – The Next Generation (DNG). "I remember the first session held in our school cafeteria when Program Director Lisa Townsend told us to take off our shoes and socks and try movement called ballet. We practiced the positions that day—how to coordinate placement of our arms and feet—and I loved it!" says Adrianne. She adds, "I continued with the program and went on to train for eight years with The Sarasota Ballet School. Without DNG and Lisa Townsend, I would not be where I am today." Adrianne credits the fantastic Booker faculty, and especially dance teacher Melissa Lodhi with helping her define the kind of dancer she wanted to be. "Prior to attending Booker, I had focused only on ballet. My high school dance classes opened me up to modern, jazz and release technique – postmodernist dance that is not so structured. Movements are less rigid and not just repetition of an established standard. It's more about releasing the body to think and feel in the moment. I built on my ballet foundation, but was reignited with ideas, almost like a child unselfconsciously creating movement" says Adrianne.

What does Adrianne recall about being awarded a FASS scholarship? "My uncle, a college counselor here in Sarasota, encouraged me to apply. When I found out that I was awarded the scholarship, I just remember bursting into tears. It meant so much to me to have the recognition and financial support from the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota and I will always be grateful to your organization."

"When I was sixteen, I was invited to participate at a summer program with the renowned Alvin Ailey School of Dance in NYC. The program was very challenging, but I learned so much in that short period of time and really grew as a dancer. A highlight was my solo in a beautiful Afro-Caribbean piece that opened me up to incorporating my ethnicity in my dance performances. I was always confident in my auditions, but didn't often see African-American faces or dancers that looked like me in ballet." 

It's common in the dance world for young dancers to descend on New York City right after graduating college and try to make career for themselves. That is a difficult task and often those dancers return home after a year of struggle due to lack of maturity, lack of preparation, lack of connections and lack of professional experience. To avoid that outcome, Adrianne returned to Sarasota after earning her BFA in Dance from Florida State. When Lisa Townsend offered her a teaching job with NG, Adrianne jumped (or, more likely, gracefully leapt) at the opportunity.

"I wanted to have more experience and also give back to the organization that had given me so much. I wanted the boys and girls to see that DNG is not just an after-school activity, but can be the way to the future they want for themselves."

"I am responsible for community outreach for the Company. I love performing and teaching and want to share. My motto is Faith, Focus and Family and I am fortunate to have all three in my life."

Adrianne also taught modern ballet at The Sarasota Ballet summer program and in the Fall of 2016, she made the move to Brooklyn, NY. Her job as a nanny (which she still holds today) included taking two little girls to dance class where a chance encounter with a dancer she knew years ago led to a successful audition for Adrianne with the dance company TheREDprojectNYC, a self-described community of artistic dare-devils. Adrianne continues to study and teach dance and perform with TheREDprojectNYC which offers many classes, workshops and community events. She notes, "I am responsible for community outreach for the Company. I love performing and teaching and want to share. My motto is Faith, Focus and Family and I am fortunate to have all three in my life." To learn more about Adrianne and TheREDprojectNYC dance company, click here: https://www.trpnyc.com/ 

About The Sarasota Ballet's Dance – The Next Generation: Adrianne Ansley is one of 143 students that have completed their 10-year participation in the DNG program. Established in 1991, DNG provides an opportunity for those who are most at risk of dropping out of school to participate in a 10-year, full-scholarship program in dance. The program's goal is to nurture the development of the entire individual through dance with emphasis on discipline, self-esteem and the desire for higher education. Upon completion of the program and graduating from high school, students may apply for non-dance related scholarships from State College of Florida or USF Sarasota-Manatee.

To learn more, click here: https://www.sarasotaballet.org/DNG

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