Dance instructor focuses on children
As the owner and director of Ashland&
s Danceworks dance studio, Aisha Wand says the compliment she hears most and that means to the most to her is that she brings a positive attitude and patience to her teaching. Wand teaches hip hop and jazz to children and adults; most of her students are within the difficult age bracket of 11 to 17.
I really try to focus on body awareness and creating a positive environment where children can feel good about themselves, especially when going through all the changes they do at this age,&
says Wand. &
I really want to promote self-confidence in children.&
Wand also teaches rhythm, which she notes doesn&
t come naturally to everyone. learning to keep in time when dancing, as well as becoming more aware of their bodies, she says the young dancers feel less awkward and gain stronger self-esteem.
Wand began dancing when she was about 9 years old and has been dancing ever since. Born in London, she grew up in Honolulu where she says she loved dancing in grade school performances. She danced hula and Tahitian, but she was especially interested in jazz and ballet. She took several ballet classes and incorporates the classical movements into the hip hop and jazz she teaches today. Wand graduated from Kaiser High School in Honolulu where she began her 14-year professional dance career.
With a Honolulu-based theater company founded by Tommy Aguilar, the original Paul in the London company of &
A Chorus Line,&
she performed in productions of &
West Side Story,&
A Chorus Line.&
And, in Honolulu, she performed for four years as a headliner in the celebrity tribute show, &
Legends in Concert,&
which began at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas and is now international and one of the world&
s most highly acclaimed celebrity tribute show.
She also taught dance, mostly to children, and did some choreography in Hawaii until she moved to Los Angeles and then New York to pursue her dance career. In Los Angeles, she worked on MTV and VHl in the early 90s with several well-known artists including Prince and Baby Face.
— — ARTIST SKETCH — Name: Aisha Wand — Hails From: London, England — Age: &
— Training: New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu — Niche: Teaches upbeat, fun, dance classes using contemporary music — Claim to Fame: Working with Prince — Inspiration: Children and music
She moved to Ashland in the late 90s to be close to family and to raise her child. She&
s since remarried and now has three children.
Ashland is such a wonderful place for children. And it&
s a very artistic town. I enjoy working with the different local artists. I try to do as much as I can,&
Last year Wand choreographed &
for the Oregon Conservatory of Performing Arts&
fifth annual summer musical camp. This year, she&
s choreographing &
s new Children&
s Musical Theatre, as well as a recital for her Dancworks students. &
opens April 13 at the Ashland Historical Armory.
s Musical Theater of Ashland is the community&
s newest youth based theater. All children from ages 7 through 17 who audition are cast. The theater is directed by Jon Taylor, the former musical director for Cirque de Soleil&
s Las Vegas production of &
Wand says the theater&
s positive attitude with youth is a good match for her.
s been a wonderful experience working with Jon Taylor and the talented children in Ashland, and I hope to do more theater in the future. I encourage any child who interested in music, dance and theater to join us.&
As for her feelings about her own work and career choice, Wands says, &
I love it. I can&
t think of a better career than teaching dance and choreography.&
Danceworks classes are held at the Dance Space, 280 E. Hersey, St. For more information about Danceworks, call Wand at 552-1620 or visit www.ashlanddanceworks.com. For more information about the Children&
s Musical Theatre of Ashland, call 778-3365 or go online to www.cmtashland.org.