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7 Questions – Doug Yeuell (Joy of Motion Dance Center)

Welcome to “7 Questions” … Doug Yeuell, Executive/Artistic Director of Joy of Motion Dance Center. Embracing a wide range of dance from Middle Eastern to flamenco, hip hop to ballet, West African to tap and welcoming first-times and professional dancers, JOMDC always strives to make dance accessible regardless of financial means.

1. What was your most interesting recent project, initiative, partnership, or event?

I must say it was our recent gala fundraiser. Galas can be many things. Ours was simply a dance party and simply fun. A good time was had by all — and good money was raised. DJ spinning tunes and many, many people finding their dance on the dance floor. What could be better? It’s nice when you spend all your days focusing on dance training, curriculum, and educational programming to just let it all loose with co-workers, students, and all those that support what you do. Dance truly is for everyone, and I now have the pictures to prove it.

2. What else are you up to?

Looking forward to summer and the launch of the seventh year of our summer Step Ahead program done in conjunction with the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program here in the District of Columbia. We will be hosting 50 DC teens hired as dancers for the summer. They will be immersed in the dynamic and challenging environment of the performing arts workplace while taking class, rehearsing and producing their own show by summer’s end. Life lessons in conflict resolution, money management, nutrition and healthy eating, college prep, resume writing and interview skills are also wrapped into the experience. I am very happy with the success and accomplishment this program brings to so many young lives.

3. Is there a moment, person, or event that inspired you to do this particular work?

If I re-trace my footsteps (no pun intended), I would have to credit my older sister with encouraging me to dance and ultimately leading me to where I am today. Without her, I never would have taken my first dance class and found a life’s passion that has not only nurtured me, but also provided joy for so many others. Also, there is my dad, a preacher by trade, who through his actions has taught me many lessons in caring, compassion, and grace. Life’s simple interventions can have long and powerful lasting results.

4. Who is your hero in the nonproftit/philanthropy world?

All those that spend time, energy, and dedication to making a difference.

5. What is the single greatest (and non-financial) challenge to the work that you do every day?

Finding balance. Funny from a guy who dances, but mastering the business of art and the art of business (along with answering the question, “Are we home yet?”) is a neverending dance of challenge.

6. What advice do you have for other people who want to work in your field?

Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy ride — but never ride into the sunset, ride to the dawn.

7. What’s next?

I’ll be teaching a week long dance intensive in July for adults. Summerstock is what I call it. It’s like a reality TV show. I start the week with 15 to 20 dancers of various ages (my oldest is 75), level and skill (I will emphasize “beginner” here) and by the week’s end, we put on a show. I generally select numbers from favorite Broadway musicals past and/or present. What can I say? I was a Broadway Baby in my other life. Try though they may, Judy and Gene would have a tough time topping this experience. It’s an intensely great week with no “union breaks,” but it’s something that pulls me out of the office, excercises the other half of the brain, keeps me connected, makes it fun, and ?– oh yeah — helps me find that illusive balance.

EXTRA: If you could have a power breakfast with any three people (living, dead, or fictional) who would they be?

Ruth St. Denis, Galileo and a great friend. But it would really have to be dinner because wine is essential.

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