Honors Emily Sharpe has founded and is lead instructor of Anyone Can Dance! Emily is a rising sophomore and elementary education major. Honors Sophia Lang, another rising sophomore and computer information systems major, is a teaching assistant who works with all the dance classes. Their stated vision is,
“Every child should have access to dance classes. Our goal is to provide an accessible dance program so that every child in the Boone community can learn to dance!"
Photo above pictures Emily Sharpe (left) and Sophia Lang (right). Photo submitted.
Sharpe and Lang are both from the same hometown of Charlotte, NC, and they attended the same high school. They both grew up dancing, Emily for 15 years and Sophia for 13 years, before moving to Boone and joining the Honors College at Appalachian State University. As Sharpe explained,
“I have been teaching and assistant teaching in dance classes for five or six years. I really missed that when I came here. Then, one of my friends mentioned that there is a high poverty rate in Boone. I looked that up and saw that there was the need, and I thought it would be really great.”
“I used to run summer camps at my church and in my hometown. I taught choreography for multiple productions. I missed teaching dance so when Emily offered the opportunity, I did everything I could to make myself available and do it with her.”
Starting the program has been no small feat for Sharpe. She alone has been responsible for all aspects of the program's development including: negotiating the studio rental, finding assistant teachers, planning the recitals, raising money, acquiring equipment donations, advertising in the newspapers, distribution of flyers, registering community members, and teaching. Emily described the early days of her efforts,
"I don’t have a car so in my adolescent idealism, I walked way further than I should have! I wanted to advertise at the Hunger and Health Coalition, F.A.R.M. Café, and Hardin Park Elementary School. Then I tried to walk to the Department of Education, which is up a hill with no shoulder on the road. I was terrified for my life! I also went to Western Youth Network, another mile and a half from a bus stop. That was a night of a football game so there was a lot of traffic. First a tiny dog charged me, and then a giant dog. But it was worth it! Within two weeks we had people calling and emailing, and the classes were filled. We now have 30 active students and a waitlist."
This service and challenge is one that aligns with Sharpe’s long-term professional goals and aspirations. She wants to be a second grade teacher, and incorporate dance into her classroom. As a self-proclaimed geography and history nerd, Emily explained that she plans to bridge that with “multicultural education—by helping students to learn about and accept their own culture and the cultures of others, to cultivate a sense of community and a broader global perspective.”
Photo above features Sharpe talking to three of the dancers during one of her classes. Photo submitted.
Anyone Can Dance! is hosted at Northwestern Studios located at 1474 NC-10, Boone, NC 28607. Registration for Fall 2018 semester is currently closed. Registration for new students will be in August, if space is available. To learn more about the program or to make a donation, click here.
Sharpe has organized a Royal Ball Fundraiser for Anyone Can Dance! scheduled for June 23, 2018, and to be held at the Albemarle Road Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Click here to learn more and join the party!
Story by Garrett Alexandrea McDowell, Ph.D.