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Meet Robin Olive of Straight Up Abilities

Today we’d like to introduce you to Robin Olive.

Robin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Straight Up Abilities became incorporated in January 2016. It is a continuation of the wonderfully selfless work that Zina Bethune had done for over 25 years prior. I was so fortunate to be chosen by Zina to teach for her dance program that serviced dancers with disabilities. Zina believed in me and really helped me to see a different side of myself. A side that was just waiting to be revealed. I found an ad in the Backstage West looking for trained dancers that would be interested in teaching All Abilities, I thought that would be a nice side job. I had no idea the treasure trove that was to become. When Zina passed away unexpectedly I could not imagine these classes not continuing. So, eventually I started Straight Up Abilities. We are now a 501c3 Non Profit. We have classes currently in Anaheim, Long Beach, Studio City, Pasadena, Venice, El Segundo, and Redondo Beach. We work with Magnolia and Anaheim School District to provide in school dance classes. We have an all star group that performs at least a dozen times throughout the year. And we have School Assembly crew that goes to schools to teach a message of Inclusion through cool music and hip dancers. Every day we grow a little more. The need for this type of program is vast. Dance is good for your mind, body and your soul. We believe no matter your physical or intellectual ability, that Everyone Can and Should Dance!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Like anything in life there is always going to be ups and downs. Becoming a 501c3 was a lot of work and now because we are a legitimate Non Profit, here comes the most work. But, I can honestly say that this doesn’t feel like work. It feels good. I know, with a certain peace in my heart, that we are doing something that will transcend superficial boundaries that society typically places on one another and that we place on ourselves. The toughest part is waiting to have all the resources to be able to touch as many lives as you know is possible. It is a 24/7 job for me. And that can be hard physically and mentally. But the rewards are great and they are many. I work with angels, literally. They teach me more than I could ever teach them. Life is amazing. If something presents its self to you, even if you never thought to do it, try it, take chances, you never know what you will discover. True Story.

Please tell us about Straight Up Abilities.
Straight Up Abilities provides professional dance training to students of All Abilities. Are classes are inclusive and we pride ourselves in creating more inclusion in our classes. Some of our students may have physical or intellectual disabilities but that does not mean that they are underserving of a life where they can also live out their passions and dreams. Some of our students are student teachers or have a professional entertainment career. There are no limits.

Last Summer, the Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles actually reached out to us for a once in a lifetime opportunity. We were gifted a week-long ballet camp with the Royal Ballet while they were performing there over the Summer. I took 12 lucky talented students to experience this and it was pure magic for everyone involved.

We also partner with Special Olympics, Abilities Expo, Ability First, Friendship Foundation, VSA Orange County, Very Special Arts Festival at the Music Center, and many other wonderful organizations that help so many in this community.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe that everything that is meant to be will be. But I definitely think you need to keep your eyes open and be willing to take chances. I never dreamt of this life before I met Zina. But I’m so glad it found me. And I’m sure it was meant to be.

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Image Credit:
Photography by David Chi

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