Human | Artist | Dancer, also known as HAD, is a nonprofit organization founded to serve young artists focused on dance as a serious aspect of their future plans.
Our vision is to offer a foundation for dancers through education, mentorship, leadership, scholarships, and facilitation of every aspect of the dance/arts industry. In addition, our platform will connect young dance students with leading dance professionals who want to give education and hands-on guidance to those seeking direction in their journey with the arts.
We aim to help young artists make more educated and productive decisions in their path to success.
HAD will also produce seasonal events/fundraisers to provide financial support for high school-age dancers to assist in their higher dance education.
By Ronda Runnels
I fell in love with dance at age six. The expression. The joy. The beauty in the motion. I soaked it all in. I couldn't get enough of my first love.
I came home one day from first grade and told my mom, "Mom, I want to own a dance studio and company!" She nodded and smiled. Then did what any good mom would do; she told me to go for it.
Luckily, I didn't know then all the obstacles I'd have to overcome to pursue a life and career full of dance. But ignorance is bliss, they say. Well, I'll be the first to tell you I know this better than most. Regrets are not for me, though. Instead, I grew from every obstacle and want to "dance" it forward to help others pursue the beauty and thrill of dance.
At twenty-four, I opened my first dance studio, Turning Pointe Dance Center, with my business partner, Stephanie Scott. Fast forward to 2022, I now own multiple dance businesses and am relatively sure I've made my mom proud with how far I've come from my first-grade dream. My two dance businesses include Trilogy Dance Center North and Trilogy Hill Country in Bulverde, which I co-own with Kim Feltner.
Both schools also host dance companies. North is home to Insight Dance Ensemble (IDE), a pre-professional competitive dance company for young artists who want to pursue dance seriously. IDE has helped hundreds of dancers work with major artists such as Pink, Beyoncé, and Usher, and has also helped many attend the best college dance programs in the United States, including Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts and Pace University's Commercial Dance Program. In addition, Trilogy Hill Country hosts N Varsity Dance Company, a dance organization that empowers dancers to be on their high school dance team while dancing competitively.
In 2005, I founded Move & Groove Dance Program, which gives the children of working families a place to dance while mom and dad stay focused on their careers. The program has excelled and has more than twenty-two learning facilities all over the city, such as Montessori of San Antonio, St. Matthews Catholic School, Jewish Community Center, and many other stellar educational institutions.
Aside from business, my most significant honor is mentoring young artists. I learned early on that it is not the dance lessons I teach best but the life lessons. While only about 1% of dancers who major in dance end up dancing professionally, the lessons I teach on the dance floor are transferable to any career. The simple things, like showing up early, being prepared, presenting your best self every day, and holding yourself accountable, are just a few of the lessons that come with all the turns and jumps. My obstacles have made me a stronger human. And all I want is to dance it forward and help make my artists better humans.
I take great pride in seeing my former students come back to my studio. Many of these individuals started dancing as early as the age of three. And even after many years have passed, I love that they care about each other and continue to return to share their journeys and life lessons with others. No matter where my students end up, the common theme is that they all love to dance it forward. See, that's the thing about dance. It creates lifelong relationships. The love of art carries on with them no matter where life takes them.
The most challenging part of competitive dance (outside of the bruises and sore muscles) is this field's financial commitments. The demands and expenses of dance grow yearly through more conventions, competitions, summer intensives, events, and costumes. The average annual bill for each dancer easily surpasses $10,000. I have always offered scholarships through Trilogy's dance programs, as I was lucky enough to receive financial assistance while I was growing up. I have never wanted to turn a hard-working dancer away, especially if money was the thing getting in the way of their dream.
The recent Pandemic added even more complexities to the world of dance. As our dance studios temporarily closed at the start of the Pandemic, I had more time to think and explore how best to ensure even more artists could get the tools, training, and financial assistance they needed to dance. I didn't just want to think about how to help, though. I wanted a plan. And that's precisely how Human | Artist | Dancer (HAD) was born.
HAD is a nonprofit organization founded in 2021 by a Board of eager performing arts enthusiasts focused on serving and supporting local young dancers. All of us believe in the power of dancing it forward. HAD aims to raise funds for local young artists and then use those dollars to offer education, training, and scholarships to motivated dancers.
HAD's mission is to create a professional development program for ten hand-picked dancers who will get all the tools, training, support, education, and resources necessary to become elite artists. The ten selected finalists will then compete for three top scholarships awarded at the end of the development period. The largest scholarship starts at $10,000. In addition, these dancers will get to train with the best in the industry, work with other professionals, including doctors and nutritionists, and further their training.
The Pandemic nearly crushed the dance world, leaving hundreds of studios closed and even more artists without a place to fulfill their craft. A community with a common goal is needed to bring the performing arts back and fuel the future even further than before. As I watch my 19-year-old daughter perform at Pace University's Commercial Dance Program, I'm motivated now more than ever to ensure the arts not only survives but also thrives the Pandemic's crushing blow.
Nothing is a given, yet today in the vulnerable world we wake up to every day, we cannot take the performing arts for granted. No magic wand makes dreams come true, at least not for me. I put in blood, sweat, and tears to turn obstacles into opportunities. Now it's my turn to dance it forward. I am blessed to have the HAD Board of Directors by my side and the community's support. Together, we can continue to make dance dreams come true, one day at a time, one dollar at a time, and one Human | Artist | Dancer at a time.