Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Shepherd.
Hi Donna, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up a highly competitive dancer winning numerous national titles. My mother was my biggest support and pushed me to set and achieve my goals. She passed away from cancer towards the end of my senior year in high school. I chose to continue to pursue my dream of staying in the arts because that’s what she wanted for me. When I graduated high school, I worked in LA briefly and started teaching at local competitive dance studios. While balancing both performing and teaching, I realized that my heart truly loved teaching children. I went all in and made it my career. My training and choreography style won me numerous national titles and allowed me to work internationally for years. My students have gone on to be represented by L.A.’s top agencies performing with artists such as Beyonce, Ariana Grande, JLo and Justin Beiber, to name a few. I moved to New York City about seven years ago to pursue Broadway. I was fortunate enough to become the associate choreographer for the first national tour of Finding Neverland working under, three time Emmy winner Mia Michaels. I realized yet again just how much I loved working with children. So I journeyed back across the country to open my own dance studio. Creative Outlet Performing Arts Center opened in July of 2019, just months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, my business was able to weather the storm by offering virtual classes, interactive activities, outdoor meet ups and eventually inviting the children back into the studio. I am so thankful to my clientele and my community for supporting me through it all! We are thriving now and loving mentoring the youth as they nourish their love for the arts!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
What road is?! Losing my mother to cancer was devastating but it gave me perspective and drive. Moving to NYC on my own wasn’t easy but it gave me thick skin. Working in a high-stress environment to put on a Broadway show taught me how to move quickly and swiftly to put forth an amazing product. The pandemic taught me how to stay creative and not get set in doing things one way. In the moment, all of these things felt like too much. But now, looking back, I appreciate them all for helping me grow and learn to become a better business owner.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I own a children’s dance and performing arts studio. We specialize in dance and musical theater. Personally, I still travel and set choreography for other dance studios across the country. I’m known for creating a high-energy, commercial look. My work combines current styles with show-stopping technical abilities.
I’m proud of my students! Knowing that my time with them gave them the tools and confidence to pursue a career in the arts themselves. Seeing them succeed means more to me than any award.
What I’m most proud of…my daughter. I just became a mom three months ago to the most beautiful little red-headed girl who happens to have an extra chromosome. I was terrified my entire pregnancy but now that she’s here, I couldn’t be more in love! She is perfect and absolutely my biggest and best accomplishment.
How do you think about luck?
Gosh! That’s hard to say… Losing my mom at a young age can’t be seen in good fortune by any means. But I will say that my path crossed me with the right people at the right time since then. Some call it luck but I call it a blessing.
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