An opportunity like the one Clinton resident Ashanti Jacobs has been offered doesn’t come around very often. So, when it does, taking full advantage of what has been presented is always a must.
Jacobs, who is a freshman at Clinton High School and a dance student under the professional instruction of Quisan’s Dance Academy, was chosen out of hundreds of dancers to attend training and auditions among some of the top names in the dance industry.
While the selection was a surprise to Jacobs, her dance instructors feel the judges made a great choice and saw what they see everyday in the studio.
“Ashanti has grown in her flexibility and technique,” Najshula Hall, lyrical and contemporary teacher, said. “She has truly learned to embrace the music, listen to the words and feel the movement.”
Jacobs performed her first solo this year, and while at a competition in Greenville, S.C., was selected by the judges as a dancer with star quality and invited to work with Discovery Spotlight Agency.
“I’m so proud that a hometown girl from Sampson County has the opportunity to represent QDA among some of the top dancers in the country,” Hall added.
Jacobs began taking dance five years ago at Quisan’s Dance Academy. In that time, she has traveled throughout North Carolina and other states representing the studio on competitive teams. The dancer has numerous first place finishes under her belt, including the first place overall award she won for her solo this year. Along with her team, she has also won national titles.
“I could tell when Ashanti first started that she had a natural musicality about her to move,” Quisan Parker, artistic director at QDA, said.
Parker and her assistant director, Ashley O’Quinn, watched Jacobs grow as a dancer, and this year decided to offer her a solo.
“You just won’t find a harder working student than Ashanti,” Parker shared.
In the five years Jacobs has taken dance, her teachers say she has grown and exhibits a maturity only found in the best dancers.
“The first year I taught Ashanti, it was a couple of years ago,” O’Quinn explained. “She was in my ballet class and she was very timid. She wouldn’t make eye contact and typically looked down when speaking to me or anyone else for that matter. But, even then, I could see how focused, determined and studious she was as a dancer.”
As that young dancer, O’Quinn described how Jacobs would not only watch the instructors and assistants for understanding, but often watched other students who were more advanced.
“She went from being the weakest dancer in my classes to one of the top,” O’Quinn shared. “That didn’t just come from natural talent. It came from her diligence as a student trying to master her craft.”
Only a freshman in high school, Jacobs already has her eyes set on her future, which involves dancing. Her scholarship opportunity will only enhance her potential to have a career in the dance industry.
O’Quinn calls the opportunity — amazing.
“It’s amazing and rare,” O’Quinn shared. “There were a couple of hundred kids she was up against and she received it. It’s an incredible scholarship for an incredible girl who wants to have this incredible experience. It’s truly a chance of a lifetime.”
Jacobs will spend three days in Charleston, S.C. working with top casting agents and affiliates for Nickelodeon, Disney and The Joffrey Ballet. Being marketable in all areas, Parker said her student will audition in dance, acting and modeling.
“This will only further her opportunities as a dancer,” Parker said.
The solo was choreographed by Marcus White, QDA alumni, who is now one of the choreographers and guest instructors.
Jacobs’ scholarship covers the cost of her three days of training, but she is responsible for covering the costs associated with travel. Anyone interested in helping Jacobs reach her dream can make donations at gofundme.com by searching for Ashantis Dance Opportunity.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.