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Life & Work with Joanna (Jojo) Burke

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna (Jojo) Burke.

Joanna (Jojo), we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
When I was growing up in Phoenix, Arizona dancing & acting was such a big part of my life. I always found so much magic in listening to music, telling a story through movement, creating characters, & in my free time I loved going to the movies. The thought of being a contribution to the entertainment industry had me at a young age & at 17 years old I said goodbye to my family and came out to California.

I landed my 1st gig as a performer in West Hollywood & would attend rehearsals at a dance studio out in El Monte. I made friends at the studio & was invited to substitute teach some dance classes for kids. After about two days on the job, it became obvious that I was a “pied piper” of children & was loving every minute of giving back to my students the BEST PARTS of MY childhood. I became an official faculty member, looked forward to seeing my students every week & creating a magical experience for them in the dance studio. When you came to “Miss Jojo’s” class all your troubles were left at the door and it was time to embark on a magical & creative journey of self-expression.

With the success & pure JOY I was experiencing as a teacher & remembering the entrepreneurial mindset my parents had instilled in me, I started a business called “Jojo’s Dance Divas & Dudes” in 2011. I began by providing dance & acting classes for a handful of Preschools, Community Centers & it wasn’t long before Private Schools were contacting me to bring enrichment programs to their facilities.

As time went on, I was asked to partner with a handful of Summer Camps as well as partnering with companies that provide entertainment at children’s Birthday Parties. Companies I partnered with were even able to provide remote services during COVID which is something I never would have imagined that I could do till it happened.

During COVID, I was not only offered & accepted a part-time job as a 1st-grade teaching assistant, I also started creating digital pieces of entertainment with my students which they LOVED cause they not only got to create a lot of their own content but also saw themselves as “movie stars” which inspired me to create a YouTube channel full of kid’s content which I want to continue to take to the next level in 2021.

Being Miss Jojo, owner of Jojo’s Dance Divas & Dudes is such an incredibly rewarding responsibility & experience! From enrichment to education to entertainment, the possibilities of the brand I have created are endless & the BEST part is that it is ALL about our youth!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
1. Right before I took the 1st step to start a business, my Father passed away leaving myself & my family, who was still miles away in Arizona, in emotional & financial shambles.

2. Upon filing a DBA with the county clerk, I experienced scam after scam after scam. I was receiving scams when it came to publishing, my website, and even when it was time to refile.

3. When COVID hit, the entire operation came to a screeching halt. As I was doing my best to pivot and keep my head above water, I started averaging three panic attacks a day. Luckily I was able to move passed…there is nothing worse than wanting to forge forward in your business but feeling like you physically just can’t.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I am 100% a kid person! I am known for bringing children a magical experience in a loving & safe environment. For me, this started in a dance studio as a dance teacher. I currently hold dance classes at The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge, will be hosting a handful of Summer Camps there, as well as at City of Burbank Parks & Recreation. Once we move further passed COVID, I am hoping to bring enrichment programming back to Preschools and Private Schools.

Fun Fact: Prior to COVID, I was teaching dance during after school programming at Chandler Private School. It was that experience that led to my teaching assistant opportunity.

Another Fun Fact: It was also my work as a dance teacher that led to my providing activities for large groups of kids & it was that work that led me to Birthday party entertainment.

I found it so exciting that I could work with kids doing so many different things that I love. From dance class to conventions/special events to parties to assistance with school work, I am loving it all.

Something else that I really love is asking kids questions & getting to know them. This even has to be a magical experience so the sparkly microphone comes out and BAM…I am all of the sudden a host & the kid is a star! This inspired me to learn more about hosting & I was fortunate enough to train at “Become A Host” under the instruction of Marki Costello. The more I came to class & created content, it became so clear that a goal I have is to host a children’s tv show.

Something that I am really proud of is my ability to keep going. There have been so many times the deck has been stacked against me and I still keep going-will NOT give up.

Something that sets me apart from others is also something I am really proud of and that is the ability & confidence to be 100% myself. What is crazy is even though I have created this character called “Miss Jojo” I feel like that is really who I am at heart, to me it is a lifestyle choice to be a FUN colorful adult who is a good role model, and I want that part of myself to ALWAYS show. Yes, I am over the top with unicorn wigs, magic wands, etc. when I am entertaining children, but when I am just being ME, even though my streetwear is WAY toned down, it is still a pretty “out there” different from the way your average professional adult would dress. I am also full of energy and over the top in my movement & speech which is just who I am. It took me a very long time to accept that person, that person who is never going to blend in. Once I embraced that part of myself I felt so free, had so much more confidence in my work, and gained so many more opportunities.

What’s next?
I want to keep expanding. ANY opportunity that Miss Jojo/Jojo’s Dance Divas & Dudes has to work with kids I am all about! What else can I teach them that will help shape them for the rest of their lives?

I am really serious about being a host for a children’s tv show. I do have a background in entertainment so there is no reason why I can’t take this dream to the next level. I plan to start small by creating some of my own content for YouTube and continue to forge forward with this dream by reaching out to others who can maybe offer assistance in this area.

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