Her desire to be a part of the story is what led Ms. Armstrong from the skyscrapers of New York back to where she began at Quality Life Center in Fort Myers. She had taken ballet and other dance classes as a child before coming to Quality Life Center. But at the Q, she took African dance for the first time. She performed at cultural events and Kwanzaa celebrations. She became an ambassador for cultural awareness.
This exposure shaped her, and led her to push for a serious performing arts program at Quality Life Center. Her vision will become reality on September 4th at the center’s campus on 3210 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. The program will offer instruction in dance, drama, electronic music and martial arts on Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. Instruction is open to the public. Introductory classes and more advanced training are both available.
Participants in Dance will receive instruction of a variety of styles, including African, ballet, hip hop, lyrical and jazz. Dance instructor Bianca Russell has trained and choreographed in multiple styles of dance, with extensive study in Traditional West African dance and hip hop, having recently completed a training program at Dance New Amsterdam in New York City, where she was mentored by choreographer Jennifer Archibald. Ms. Russell has received performance scholarships from So You Think You Can Dance choreographers Laurie Ann Gibson, Chris Judd, and Mia Michaels as well as choreographers from Americas Best Dance Crew. During her career, Ms. Russell has choreographed for major productions throughout the region. In addition to teaching at the Q, Ms. Russell co-founded a dance company, a[rose]n dance, that travels for performances and teaching workshops. “I am a teacher and a choreographer at heart,” said Ms. Russell “I just want to make available what wasn't for me.”
Drama class is taught by Ms. Armstrong. She has been involved in the arts since elementary school, performing both dance and drama. She studied at Dance Theater Academy, Stars of Tomorrow and Colours Cultural Performing Arts for Dance. Ms. Armstrong has a passion for musical theater, which she studied for three years at Oxford School of Music.
In Music Technology, youth will learn to play instruments and produce music. Local legend Mr. Maestro will help students explore musical building blocks, learn the language used to share musical ideas with others while applying basic keyboard and drum-playing techniques to perform simple melodies, harmonies, and beats. In addition to learning the fundamentals, students will gain a complete foundation in recording music on a computer, and explore the art of sampling, sequencing, remixing, audio production, and sound creation.
Martial Arts class is taught by Mr. Muhammed, Quality Life Center’s Executive Director. He earned his black belt in Karate in New York’s Chinatown, and studied in Korea for a year. He taught martial arts in the military, and has been instructing youth in Fort Myers for years. He will teach various forms of martial arts systems, including Korean, Okinawan, Japanese and Chinese. Students will learn self-discipline and how to apply training to everyday life.
For more details and class schedules call Shari Armstrong or Angela Pena at Quality Life Center at 239.334.2797.