Atlanta has a strong and growing creative economy. Everyday, we meet women who are on the ground working to break down barriers, build community, inspire, inform, and entertain the people of Atlanta through the arts.
For National Women’s History Month in March, C4 Atlanta will be curating a Leading Lady blog series celebrating the women in the creative economy of Greater Atlanta. Over the last several weeks, we have asked the public to nominate women in the creative sector who inspire and have positively impacted the Atlanta community through their contributions.
We are proud to introduce the Next Leading Lady for March 2018 : Kara Jacobson
Where do you work and what do you do?
Just over a year ago, I founded The Atlanta Dance Academy (TADA). TADA is a dance education and training facility that welcomes all who have a passion or interest in dance. Whether you have never danced before in your life and you’d just like to learn or whether you’re on track to become a professional dancer, TADA has a place for you. I often find myself saying: “TADA is an academy. What we offer is quality, but we’re also TADA! which is fun, warm, and nurturing”. In addition to creating a new space for Atlanta artists to learn, collaborate, and perform, I have launched the TADA Foundation whose goal is to focus on dance education and performance opportunities for those who usually don’t have access. Lastly, I am on the Faculty at Emory University in our School of Public Health. In this role, I conduct research on ways to better inform consumers about health information in a clear, simple way. I am so excited to bridge my passion for public health and dance by offering such programs for those with physical and developmental disabilities as well as focusing on slowing down cognitive and movement disorders by offering dance as a type of physical therapy (e.g., dance for those with Parkinson’s is beginning to show a positive impact on many people’s lives).
When and how did you first become interested in the arts? How long have you been in your line of work?
I am from Atlanta, and I began taking ballet when I was 2½. I danced predominately with The Georgia Ballet and Southern Ballet, and I am so grateful for my instructors Iris Hensley and Pittman and Chris Corey. I attended Georgia’s Governor’s Honors program in dance, and I attended Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts. Although I studied dance my entire life, I decided to pursue a career in public health with a focus on the under-served (my research is based at Grady Health System). It’s clear that I have continued to fuel my passion for dance as I have recently been fortunate enough to share this passion with the Atlanta dance community by offering jobs, classes and performance opportunities for so many Atlanta artists, artists in training, and emerging artists. In a nutshell, what I do is bring people together to find the joy in movement. Dance can be a universal language that engages and connects dancers and audiences alike. Dance is culturally diverse and can enrich our communities through its creative art and music.
What did you want to be or think you were going to be when you grew up?
I never in a million years ever thought I would build a dance studio, but I am grateful for the opportunity. It’s such a perfect fit now to blend my education and training in public health (think movement and physical activity) to dance movement and arts. I love learning and I am always looking for new challenges. This challenge, TADA, will certainly keep me busy for many years.
If you could have lunch with any woman from history who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
Wow- so many to choose from. I would start with a dance legend, Isadora Duncan. She seemed to break away from the mold which during the late 1800’s had to be quite rebellious. Ms. Duncan is stated to have craved a different environment with less hierarchy. I would be honored to learn from those like her about their courage and risk taking behaviors. I would like to talk about taking an idea and growing it large enough so that you can have an impact on many individuals’ lives.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
I am certain that I was fortunate enough to have the opportunities that I have today because of my parents. Their guidance and support has enabled me to be exposed to so many diverse opportunities. Without their support of my dance training, college and graduate school, I wouldn’t have the skills and experiences to accomplish what I am doing today. In addition to my parent’s support, they always told me that I could do anything that I set my mind to. It was a “I can” environment rather than a “You can’t” environment.
How is art a passion for you?
Dance is a passion for me because it’s unlike any other form of movement that I have experienced. I have always been an athlete. I grew up dancing, doing gymnastics and springboard diving. I was on the diving team at Emory College and I even performed professionally as part of the US High Diving Team. While I loved those sports and I even competed in Iron Man triathlons, none of those athletic endeavors brought out the same spark or fire that dance evokes in me. I am not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what this is, but it’s real and it’s always there for me, and this is what I want to be able to assist others in finding… the joy in movement.
What are your thoughts on equality and the representation of women in the creative workforce?
Equality for me is not only women, but it’s everyone independent of gender, race, ethnicity, income or education. I believe in offering everyone an opportunity to learn, grow, and shine.
What most excites you about the arts in Atlanta?
Atlanta is amazing! We are now leading the film industry, we have so many wonderful resources, and as a community we need to ensure that we provide ample training for everyone in our community so that we can continue to be a hub for teaching and performance. Specifically, for the dance community, we are creating a strategic plan for bringing all dance artists in Atlanta together- because together we can have a greater impact.
What do you hope to contribute to the Atlanta arts community with the work you do?
My goal is to offer quality dance training for all with an emphasis on inclusion. We embrace those with physical and developmental disABILITIES and we prefer to focus on these students’ ABILITIES.