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Meet Rhasaan Sherrill of Beat Box Dance Academy in Woodland Hills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhasaan Sherrill.

Rhasaan, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Beat Box Dance Academy was actually birthed my last year in graduate school. I had to submit a thesis for my final project and decided I would create a hip-hop curriculum for middle school-aged children. Having always been an avid lover of all things hip-hop and dance, I felt it was important to teach children dance in a manner that paid homage to the roots of hip-hop culture. After going through the grueling process of defending my thesis to a committee of educators and experts in the field, I received my Master’s Degree and decided why not take this curriculum to the schools!? I actually began drafting up my business plan and taking all the necessary steps to become a bonafide company my last month of grad school. I took a solid year to get my business model together while working part-time.

As the sole proprietor of the company, I wanted to make sure that my work looked professional and everything I presented to potential clients was thorough. The great thing is that I had already been teaching dance at studios and community centers so through word of mouth, I was able to get into my first school in Fall 2017. I knew one school was not going to be enough for me to quit my part-time gigs and do Beat Box full time so I began relentlessly calling and visiting schools letting them know why they needed Beat Box Dance on their campus. By Spring 2018 I had gotten into three schools through more word of mouth and cold visits and now, the Fall 2019, I have been in over ten schools/centers teaching numerous classes to children ages 5-16.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The journey of an entrepreneur is never smooth. I have lost count of number of schools that turned down my company or flat out did not respond to me compared to the number of schools I booked. I have had to take on the perspective that not every school is a good fit for Beat Box Dance and that is okay! I no longer get discouraged with the rejection, on the contrary, it makes me push harder to reach the schools that Beat Box Dance is purposed for. Deciding to take the leap of faith and leave my part-time job was also hard for a person who loves stability. There are so many financial obligations that I was simply ignorant to when it came to running a business. Who knew that to just to be identified as an LLC you have to pay an $800 fee to the state!? I’ve had unexpected legal battles with other companies that have required me to hire lawyers, which can be quite costly. There were surely times where my household had to adjust to the change in finances but that did not stop me from pursuing what this gift that I was given. I know that more struggles will meet me along the road of but I truly believe that these are life lessons are meant to guide me throughout this journey.

Beat Box Dance Academy – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Beat Box Dance Academy is a performing arts-based program intended to provide schools and/or other youth-oriented institutions with a standards-based, hip-hop dance curriculum. Unlike other dance programs, the curriculum administered to students was meticulously developed to challenge students to be creative and critical thinkers while incorporating moderate-to-vigorous activity. Each lesson plan includes National Core Arts Standards and Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards that are transferable to any institution operating under these standards. Students who complete the course will acquire a working vocabulary of basic hip-hop dance moves, understand the historical and contemporary relevance of hip-hop as a sub-culture, develop a repertoire of movement, and be able to apply processes to other forms of disciplines. The need for students to achieve multi-literacies is met by teaching lessons that support literacies including: arts and creativity, cyberliteracy, physical fitness and health literacies, multicultural literacy, social/emotional literacy, and media literacy.

Hip-hop has been around for 40 years. Many of the children who take my classes have parents who are not even 40 years old so to hear a child share the founding elements of hip-hop and recite dance pioneers such a Don Campbell, Popping Pete, and Crazy Legs makes me so proud. We cannot deny the influences of hip-hop, not only on a national level but a global level. I feel it is important to know the origins of the culture in its most purest form so that we can have a greater respect of the art form today and so that we can cultivate a new generation of artists for tomorrow.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as acknowledging the gifts, skills, and talents that are intrinsic to one’s being and pursuing them relentlessly and unapologetically. Success doesn’t have an expiration or end date and it cannot always be quantified. Personally, I define my success in being a student. I am a teacher by profession but I always strive to be a student first. I push myself to read more, take courses, talk with experts, go to conferences, take dance classes, and do any and everything where I find myself deficient intellectually, physically, and spiritually. I truly believe that by pursuing these, I will be successful.

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BBDA LLC

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