5

AbunDance Academy of the Arts is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable and free theater, music, and dance instruction. On June 25, 2017, at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, the group will perform "Sister Act, AbunDantly!" which is based on the hit films starring Whoopi Goldberg.

The show is appropriate for all ages and includes a cast of more than one-hundred performers aged three to eighty-three.

Founder and artistic director Karisma Jay recently discussed the show and the performing arts organization in an exclusive interview.

Dance

Blasting News (BN): What inspired you to start AbunDance and what kind of an impact has it had on people's lives?

Karisma Jay (KJ): AbunDance is about transformation.

The Arts are our conduit to healing. Our goal is to continue to make the arts more accessible and more enjoyable and to help students of all ages and all socio-economic backgrounds to experience their Abundance.

I started AbunDance because I had been working and training in the industry and wanted to create more of an artistic hub where creatives, aficionados and amateurs alike, could explore their self-expression and deepest creativity.

BN: What made you decide to stage "Sister Act" and why did you select such a huge cast?

KJ: I’ve always loved the “Sister Act” movies, and Ms. Goldberg is one of my she-roes. It’s very interesting though because when I chose “Sister Act” for our production theme last summer, I had no idea how relevant the quote "art imitates life" would become. It applies in such a timely and relevant way.

Top Videos of the Day

Who knew that five months after choosing “Sister Act” as our theme, we would be experiencing our own version where our rent would double, and we would need to fight to keep the school open. Some of the major concepts throughout the movie are playing out in our real life with such fervor and timeliness.

BN: AbunDance has to move as you got priced out of your old home so has it proven to be hard to find a new place?

KJ: The real estate market is very cutthroat. We have a few places on the table, and now it’s down to what makes the most sense--and cents!

BN: What can people do to help and support the academy in these tough financial times?

KJ: We set up a "Go Fund Me" to help us with our multiple moves and build money to cover all the relocation costs. We moved out of the original location; moved all of our barres, mirrors, floors and everything else into two storage rooms and had been renting low-cost space in the neighborhood.

Performances

BN: What do you consider to be your ultimate goals for the future of AbunDance?

KJ: One of our ultimate goals has been materializing as we see our students access their AbunDance. Whether it be acceptance letters to prestigious universities, specialized high schools, diverse middle schools or world-class arts institutions, our students have been succeeding hand over fist.

Ultimately, that's what AbunDance is all about.

BN: What are some of the most rewarding things about being a performing arts professional and what is next for you as far as projects are concerned?

KJ: Being able to not only lead by example but also live by example. All the teaching artists in residence here at AbunDance, are not only colleagues/working professionals, but they are also close friends of mine who want the best for the students at AbunDance.

To watch all of us give back in such a rewarding way, it really is inspiring and refreshing to know that we have a hand in creating the future leaders in the arts industry. We were once the same age as the students, receiving information and knowledge from our own mentors and teachers. It's “Full Circle” or rather, it's “AbunDance.”

* * * * *

To learn more about “Sister Act, AbunDantly!” visit the official AbunDance Academy website and Facebook or follow them on Twitter via @AbunDanceBK.