RISING STARS


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Name: Amina Olushola Heckstall

Company: Ballet International Africans

Title: Founder, Director, & Choreographer
1. What do you love about your job and why?
I am a dancer before I am anything else. It is where my passion lies and it brings healing into my mind, body and soul. My job allows me to instill this love for the performing arts into not only the youth, but my entire community, and the world. This is a gift in itself, to be able to influence and change the world through doing something you love – and I love it!
2. What are your business goals over the next five years?
In the next five years my goals are to open a cultural performing arts center which would be a home for my dance company and a dance school for the community; I would like to produce an annual Cultural Arts Conference with workshops and concert performances; I want to have my company not only tour schools in America but to do cultural arts exchanges with other dancers in West Africa; lastly, I would like to have my Masters in Africana Studies and Dance from Long Island University (which I currently attend) so that I can offer my classes and lectures to university students.
3. How do you give back to the community?
I take in and teach children and teens of all ages for free and train them to perform with my company at professional performances. I have been doing this since 1994 and we perform annually at the Afrikan Poetry Theatre’s Kwanzaa Concert for the community in which we are based, Rochdale Village. We also do free performances/under our minimum fee performances for local organizations and elementary schools. The conference event I hope to hold eventually would offer classes at a discount (or free) for community residents. It is my desire for all underserved communities to be able to afford to see a professional performing arts or cultural arts event in their neighborhoods.