Chehalem Valley Dance Academy is excited to feature Charissa Fuller for our Instructor Spotlight this month. Charissa, now a college sophomore, started dancing at CVDA when she was 7 years old. She spent 9 years dancing on the Performing Company. After graduating from Newberg High School, Charissa headed to Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington for one year. A serious injury altered her plans to major in dance performance, but lucky for us, she returned to Newberg to attend school and teach at CVDA.
Chehalem Valley Dance Academy: Tell us about your experience at Cornish College of the Arts.
Charissa Fuller: I danced at least six to eight hours a day. We had lots of guest teachers and I learned so many different techniques and styles. It truly expanded my horizons. As a freshman, I had the opportunity to perform in two shows choreographed by seniors for their B.F.A. (Bachelors of Fine Arts) project. I also really loved the sophisticated arts scene in Seattle.
CVDA: What’s your favorite dance genre to perform and why?
CF: Lyrical! Tap is a close second – I loved tap when I was younger. With lyrical it’s so fluid and freeing – I can express my emotions through movement. At Cornish there was a big emphasis on lyrical and contemporary styles.
CVDA: What classes do you teach now?
CF: I teach the entire ballet program (beginning through ballet 5, plus adult ballet), two advanced tap classes – for children and teens, and two PC dances, Pre-Company and Elites.
CVDA: What’s the biggest challenge and biggest reward of teaching dancers?
CF: Probably the biggest challenge is getting used to myself in the teacher role. I never saw myself on the teaching side because I thought I’d keep performing. The biggest reward is to watch the dancers push themselves, grow, and achieve goals they’ve been working on.
CVDA: What does CVDA offer that other studios don’t?
CF: Our motto “Dance Skills Are Life Skills” is true! It’s not just the time that dancers spend in the studio. They are learning important habits and lessons that they can apply to their daily lives and in the future.
CVDA: What do you do when you’re not teaching?
CF: I’m a full-time student at George Fox University. My new major is Health and Human Performance with a concentration in fitness management. I love outdoor adventures – the beach, hiking all over the Northwest. There are great view hikes in the Columbia River Gorge.
CVDA: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
CF: I plan to be working as an occupational therapist. Hopefully be married and starting my family because I love kids.
CVDA: If you could describe yourself in three words what would those be?
CF: Helpful. I like helping people a lot! Adventurous. Caring.
CVDA: Anything else you want our readers to know?
CF: I’m going to Africa for three weeks in May with Juniors Abroad. We will visit Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. I have to miss my first Showcase ever, but I’m so excited to see Africa!