Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Sheila Jamison

Dance Parade, Inc. is a volunteer supported non-profit organization and it is the dedication, expertise and passion of these individuals that make our events so successful!
In each issue of STEPS!, we choose a different volunteer to spotlight. We ask them a few questions about the magic they help create within the Dance Parade experience.  Check out how you can volunteer for the 2016 Parade by clicking here!

Hi Sheila, Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about your background and volunteering for Dance Parade!

graffiti wall
1. How did you first find out about Dance Parade?
Having either read about the very first Dance Parade in the paper or seeing a mention of it on NY1, I remember it piquing my interest for being positioned as activism through dance.   At the time, bars were being targeted for allowing people to dance, which was a ridiculous stance for the city to take.  I forgot the parade was happening until I ran into it (I live near Tompkins Park) one year and was inspired to see everyone so totally committed.  I wanted to join up, but a lot of life happened to me between then and when I was finally able to commit in 2013.

2. What is your current role in Dance Parade, Inc?
In 2013 I worked with Dance Police, in 2014 I helped out at the Festival at the park, which is what I hope to do again this year.  I also try to help out with PR and social media when I can.

3. What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in?
I love to watch modern dance, particularly if it’s delivering a message of social justice or cultural awareness — something that makes you think, feel or see the world differently.  As far as dancing myself, I am a disco enthusiast. (Some people call it house, but it’s all disco when you get down to the nitty gritty of it.)


4. What is your dance background or interest in dance?
I was a part (an extra, really) of a modern dance troupe called Dance Black when I was an undergrad at Duke University, but I’ve taken scarce few professional lessons.  I was also a cheerleader in high school and our routines were definitely more dance than sport, if you get my drift…

Currently I am a PR consultant for a children’s dance troupe called Experimental Dance Group (EDG), which was started by my childhood friend and East Village neighbor Brian Alejandro Scott, a bi-lingual speech and language pathologist at Children’s Workshop School. He initially founded the group in 1999 as a skills-building resource for his students, particularly those with special needs.  He noted changes in behavior, attitude, academic abilities, self-esteem and motivation in his students over time and through the years EDG members have gained admission to performing arts high schools and others moved from special education to least-restrictive environments.  EDG was recognized in the Wall Street Journal in 2012 as “Manhattan’s youngest dance troupe,” and is currently fundraising to participate in Dance Parade for the first time this year.

In 2011 I joined the post-production team of an independent film called, “Hands to the Sky,”  a music-driven documentary exploring the uplifting, spirited phenomenon of urban outdoor house music parties shot on locations around New York City including the Coney Island Boardwalk and Fort Greene Park.   “Hands to the Sky” had its New York City premiere at Dixon Place before being screened at The Brooklyn Museum as part of its Keith Haring retrospective in June 2012 and City Parks Summerstage’s Whistle! A Tribute to Frankie Knuckles in June 2014.
sheila and dawn hubbard at dance parade 2014
5. If you could share the stage with anyone in history famous or not, living or deceased, a trained dancer or not, performing a routine choreographed by yourself…who would it be?
Bob Fosse!  Specifically, I would love to have been the girl with the ponytail in the “Pompeii Club” scene in “Sweet Charity.”

6. What dance group or dance style are you most looking forward to seeing this coming year in the parade?
There was group doing Tango but I can’t recall their name.  I would actually be interested in learning to Tango so I’ll be hunting them down in the park this year.

7. If you could pick a Grand Marshal for this year’s parade who would it be?
I would choose the legendary Martha Reeves because  the song “Dancing In The Street” pretty much sums up what we’ll be doing on May 14.  Also, Martha Reeves has such an age-less, universal appeal.

8. What pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer onto the Dance Parade team?
Dance Parade gives you the opportunity to experience up-close New York City at its best.  What can be better than spending a spring day outdoors with people who love dance?

sheila, brian alejandro and dancers from Alvin Ailey
9. If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be?
Dance Parade would be an instant hit in Berlin, Germany.

10. What does this year’s theme mean to you?
Decade of Dance signals looking forward rather than looking back.  For such an earnest, grassroots activity to have sustained itself and grown so much, Dance Parade should be around for decades more.