When Amiya Alexander’s friends couldn’t afford dance lessons, the then-9-year-old dancer decided to start her own studio. Now 12, this entrepreneur brings dance classes to children in underserved Detroit communities with a bright pink school bus that she’s not yet old enough to drive.
Amiya Alexander is making history … tending to the budding dancers of Detroit. Before her bright pink mobile studio, dance classes were a dream for most of Alexander’s classmates. Their low-income community lacked sufficient practice space, and parents lacked the time to travel to studios. The cost of dance training, $25 per class, made the activity all the more unlikely for Alexander’s peers. Drawing up a blueprint in crayon, the youngster became determined to teach reasonably priced classes — $11.50 each — in her own neighborhood’s parking lots.
On afternoons and weekends, Alexander’s pink school bus sets the stage for children ages 2 to 12 to learn beginner-level dances from the middle-schooler, who has been practicing since she was 2-years-old. Her ballet and hip-hop routines also serve Alexander’s other ambition: to help kids have fun as they shimmy away obesity. In 2010, Amiya’s Mobile Dance Academy generated $10,000 in revenue, making her a pirouetting entrepreneur to be reckoned with.
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What’s next for Amiya?
Last October, Alexander founded the “Rising Stars Dance With Me” program, a non-profit scholarship fund for children who can’t afford her lessons. Her longer-term goals include opening a Detroit-based performing arts center, studying at Harvard Medical School, and becoming an obstetrician. For now, the middle school student is saving for college with profits from the mobile dance studio.
In her own words …
“My goal…is to share my dance talent with younger children, focusing on underserved communities. My friends would tell me ‘Amiya, you know our parents can’t afford this.’ So my job is to teach them beginner classes at a discounted rate. My mission is to further the art of dance in an extended cultural community which will provide dance training and community programs for all youth,” Alexander wrote in a pamphlet for Future CEO Stars in 2010.
What inspires Amiya?
“My mother inspires me for being a strong, intelligent, successful entrepreneur and a single mother,” Amiya told theGrio. ”[She] had me at the young age of 20 while in her 2nd year in college at Michigan State University. She didn’t give me up for adoption; she worked very hard to raise me and graduated from MSU.”
“First lady Michelle Obama also inspires because she reminds me of my mother, a beautiful, intelligent, strong African American woman,” Amiya added.
A little-known fact …
For seriously competitive dancers, costs for dance studio lessons often add up to more than $5,000 a year. A student taking Alexander’s classes three days a week could learn for $1,750.
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