Introducing AJ Sharp – Our Featured UGOT Active Kids Instructor!
For AJ Sharp, dance is her passion and her profession. “When I’m not dancing or teaching, what do I do with myself?” she says with a laugh.
When she was 11 years old, a friend of her mother’s – who owned a studio – got AJ started in Jazz and Hip-Hop. She didn’t look back. She started studying ballet and was a competitive dancer throughout high school. She first started teaching as a student teacher at her home studio, then eventually took on her own classes. She attended Oakland University in Michigan, on scholarship, and majored in dance. “There was no minoring in anything else, there was always just dance,” AJ states. After graduation, she moved to New York and started performing.
Inspiration comes easily to AJ through other art forms, be it a film or piece of music. In her last year of school, she watched a film that was selected by being “the most random title on Netflix” -then found herself creating her senior project inspired by the movie. But it was doing a choreographic mentorship with Doug Verone and Dancers that had the greatest impact on AJ’s artistic work and life. “[Working with Doug and Company], I knew I wanted to move to New York,” said AJ, “They were my biggest inspiration”.
AJ continues to perform and create, happily living in NYC. Recently she has started her own company: Sharp Dance Company, a modern/contemporary focused company that works on experimental dance theatre in New York City (check it out on social media: Facebook @SHARPDanceCo and Instagram @sharp_danceco). Her passion and inspiration for dance is passed on to the students that she works with through UGOT Active Kids. “Introducing dance, music, meditation at a young age is important,” she says. “It becomes part of their lives from the start and helps them cope as they grow.”
Having taught with UGOT Active Kids since 2013, many young people in New York have been fortunate to discover a love for movement through their time with AJ. She leads classes and workshops in dance, yoga and rhythm. “I love that that I get to teach very young children. Nothing holds them back. They have no inhibitions. They hear the music, they dance and it feels good.”
She too, feels fortunate for the opportunities given to her through working with the company. “UGOT Active Kids really helped launch my teaching career in New York. It was the first teaching job I got in the city. It allowed me to connect with kids and day care centers. It made me love connecting with young kids and teaching.”
10-Question Pop Quiz
- What would people be surprised to learn about you? I LOVE junk reality tv! I know way too much about reality tv shows.
- If you could travel anywhere right now, where would it be? Anywhere tropical!
- If you could live anyplace, where would that be? I love living in NYC, but if I could have a second home it would be somewhere on the beach.
- What languages do you speak? English. I took Spanish all throughout high school, but it stopped there.
- What is your favourite thing about teaching dance to kids? I love teaching dance to kids because they are not afraid to move their bodies! Especially the younger kids. I love seeing their smiles and knowing they are having so much fun.
- Who or what inspires you? Doug Varone and Dancers are a big dance inspiration for me. They are a big reason why I moved to NYC.
- What’s your favourite food? I have to try so hard to resist French fries!
- What is your least favourite exercise? I hate running, but I’m starting to work that into my gym routine so I can hopefully hate it less.
- What is your favourite thing to do in your free time? I enjoy reading and learning about astrology. A hobby of mine is to read tarot cards.
- Does dancing run in your family? I’m the only “dancer” in my family!
Interview and Article by Jeanette Hedley