What you need to know about T.U.P.A.C.
Posted on July 10, 2017
The Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center (T.U.P.A.C.) is now open and enrolling for classes. Youth 6- 18 can register for West African, Liturgical, Hip Hop, and Ballet dance classes at affordable costs. T.U.P.A.C. is located at 734 Pacific Ave 3rd floor in Tacoma, for more information email email@example.com, visit www.tacomaupac.org or call 360-453-7790.
I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Joye Hardiman- T.U.P.A.C. Board of Directors President on opening day. Here’s what she had to say.
PSP: Please explain to us what’s going on today?
Dr. Hardiman: It’s the ribbon cutting and open house of T.U.P.A.C. (Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center), it’s the first step in establishing the legacy of Kabby Mitchell III. He was a brilliant man and an amazing dancer, choreographer and teacher. His dream was to open a school for young black and brown children so if they wanted to become professional dancers they could do that or if they just wanted to feel good about their body and themselves and explore how they move in space and time they could come here. So we’re doing both community dance classes and pre-professional dance classes.
PSP: For those who don’t know, Who is Kabby Mitchell?
Dr. Hardiman: Kabby came from Oakland California where he danced with several dance studios and companies after he graduated from high school. He then went to New York and studied at the Dance Studio of Harlem. After that he traveled around the world dancing in Mexico, Brazil and Holland. He eventually got recruited in Washington as the first black lead dancer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company. He went back to school to get his masters in Dance and minor in African American Studies and started teaching dance Evergreen State College.
PSP: How did you meet Kabby? Do you dance?
Dr. Hardiman: No, but I do have a background in theater. I taught at Evergreen with Kabby and was a former Executive Director at the college. My area is diasporic studies, women and cultural studies.
PSP: What went into opening a dance studio like T.U.P.A.C.?
Dr. Hardiman: A lot! Unfortunately Kabby died 2 months ago and they had already put the lease out on the building and did his design concept. He and Claire Etheridge (his partner) had already worked together on the concepts. So Claire had to make this really amazing decision to basically carry on Kabby’s legacy and pull together a bunch of people who dearly loved and supported him to come together in 2 months and completely paint the studio, get the word out and line up classes.
PSP: Can you tell us about this building?
Dr. Hardiman: When I walked into the building it felt like I was back in Harlem. Downstairs is a gallery, on the second floor is a nightclub and the dance studio is on the third floor. This has the potential to really be a mecca for urban dance performance in this area.
PSP: How important is it to have a dance studio like T.U.P.A.C. in Tacoma?
Dr. Hardiman: It is so critical, kids need the opportunity and options where places that appreciate us. Black girls have been told too long that their butts and hair don’t fit classical dance. Black boys have been told that it’s not cool to be a dancer and all those are myths that need to be exploded. Children need to understand the beauty of dance and it’s also a language because it trains your mind and body.
PSP: What classes are available?
Dr. Hardiman: Summer classes begin on Monday (July 10) through August 25. For 7 weeks, 5 days a week kids from 6-13 and 13-18 will take classes in Ballet, Hip-hop, Liturgical and West African. We’ll also do character work, talking to the kids about who they are what’s beautiful about them and their bodies. You can find out more at www.tacomaupac.org or come to the studio and register, we start classes Monday. Our very first set of ballet classes will be taught by a member of the Dance Theater of Harlem.