Kabby Mitchell, III, Co-Founder
Klair Ethridge, Co-Founder, Director
Julie Tobiason, Ballet Director
Vania Bynum, Co-Multicultural Dance Director
Erricka Turner, Co-Multicultural Dance Director
Joye Hardiman, Ph.D, Board President
Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Center’s mission is to provide our most deserving youth world class opportunities to achieve Artistic Excellence in the Performing Arts through
Kabby Mitchell, III "Kabby Mitchell III was in his early 20s when he became the first black company member of PNB, back in 1979; pictures of him from the time show a charismatic young man clearly at ease with being elegantly airborne. He danced with the company until 1984, reaching the rank of soloist. It was the beginning of a rich career that took him around the world — he performed with Nederlands Dans Theater, as well as Dance Theater of Harlem, PNB and other companies — but kept him rooted here in the Pacific Northwest, where he became a beloved choreographer, teacher, mentor and role model." -Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times
KLAIR ETHRIDGE, T.U.P.A.C. Co-Founder and Director
Klair Ethridge has always worked in the arts/entertainment fields. She began her dance training at the American Ballet Theatre School, the High School of Performing Arts, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and various other schools of dance in New York City. Klair danced in numerous stage, television, commercial, and feature film productions.
As a young girl, one of her three brothers coerced her into watching the film "The Producers", Klair was intrigued with the art of producing for the stage and screen and ultimately worked with Broadway Producer, Ashton Springer and Director Otis Sallid in New York City on several productions before moving to Los Angeles.
She assisted Director, Bill Duke on the feature film, Deep Cover, and was the Assistant to the Executive Producer of, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, before she went on to Produce & Co-Write the Short Film, Conversations, which featured James Earl Jones, Harvey Fierstein, Obba Babatunde and other notable actors, which presented at numerous domestic and international Film Festivals.
Klair went on to produce for Sony Pictures, Dick Clark Corporate Productions and numerous other companies.
Klair has also always been fascinated with sound and became a microphone boom operator, she was on the Emmy Award nominated Sound Team for Season I of LOST as well as an Emmy Award winner as a member of the Sound Team for Season IV of LOST. Desperate Housewives, the uproarious comedy, Next Day Air directed by Benny Boom, starring Mike Epps and Mos Def as well as countless other Television Shows, Feature Films and Commercials round out her professional work.
Joye Hardiman, PhD, President
Liza Rognas, Secretary
Dr. Eric Clausell
Gilda L. Sheppard, PhD
Jade Solomon Curtis
Stephanie Flagg, MD.
Maxine Mimms, PhD
Our Students learn & execute mending as their parents take our Open African Dance Class.
Use It or Lose It: Dancing Makes You Smarter, Longer.
For centuries, dance manuals and other writings have lauded the health benefits of dancing, usually as physical exercise. More recently we've seen research on further health benefits of dancing, such as stress reduction and increased serotonin level, with its sense of well-being.
Most recently we've heard of another benefit: Frequent dancing apparently makes us smarter.
A major study added to the growing evidence that stimulating one's mind by dancing can ward off Alzheimer's disease and other dementia, much as physical exercise can keep the body fit. Dancing also increases cognitive acuity at all ages.
You may have heard about the New England Journal of Medicine report on the effects of recreational activities on mental acuity in aging. Here it is in a nutshell.
The 21-year study of senior citizens, 75 and older, was led by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, funded by the National Institute on Aging, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Their method for objectively measuring mental acuity in aging was to monitor rates of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
The study wanted to see if any physical or cognitive recreational activities influenced mental acuity. They discovered that some activities had a significant beneficial effect. Other activities had none.
They studied cognitive activities such as reading books, writing for pleasure, doing crossword puzzles, playing cards and playing musical instruments. And they studied physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework.
One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind.
There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing.
Reading - 35% reduced risk of dementia
Bicycling and swimming - 0%
Doing crossword puzzles at least four days a week - 47%
Playing golf - 0%
Dancing frequently - 76%. That was the greatest risk reduction of any activity studied, cognitive or physical.
What could cause these significant cognitive benefits?
In this study, neurologist Dr. Robert Katzman proposed that these persons are more resistant to the effects of dementia as a result of having greater cognitive reserve and increased complexity of neuronal synapses. Like education, participation in mentally engaging activities lowers the risk of dementia by improving these neural qualities.
As Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Coyle explains in an accompanying commentary: "The cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are critical to these activities, are remarkably plastic, and they rewire themselves based upon their use."
Our brain constantly rewires its neural pathways, as needed. If it doesn't need to, then it won't.
Aging and memory
When brain cells die and synapses weaken with aging, our nouns go first, like names of people, because there's only one neural pathway connecting to that stored information. If the single neural connection to that name fades, we lose access to it. As people age, some of them learn to parallel process, to come up with synonyms to go around these roadblocks.
The key here is Dr. Katzman's emphasis on the complexity of our neuronal synapses. More is better. Do whatever you can to create new neural paths. The opposite of this is taking the same old well-worn path over and over again, with habitual patterns of thinking and living.
When I was studying the creative process as a grad student at Stanford, I came across the perfect analogy to this:
The more stepping stones there are across the creek,
the easier it is to cross in your own style.
The focus of that aphorism was creative thinking, to find as many alternative paths as possible to a creative solution. But as we age, parallel processing becomes more critical. Now it's no longer a matter of style, it's a matter of survival — getting across the creek at all. Randomly dying brain cells are like stepping stones being removed one by one. Those who had only one well-worn path of stones are completely blocked when some are removed. But those who spent their lives trying different mental routes each time, creating a myriad of possible paths, still have several paths left.
As the study shows, we need to keep as many of those paths active as we can, while also generating new paths, to maintain the complexity of our neuronal connections.
In other words: Intelligence — use it or lose it.
What exactly do we mean by "intelligence"?
You'll probably agree that intelligence isn't just a numerical measurement, with a number of 100 plus or minus assigned to it. But what is it?
To answer this question, we go back to the most elemental questions possible. Why do animals have a brain? To survive? No, plants don't have a brain and they survive. To live longer? No, many trees outlive us.
As neuroscience educator Robert Sylwester notes, mobility is central to everything that is cognitive, whether it is physical motion or the mental movement of information. Plants have to endure whatever comes along, including predators eating them. Animals, on the other hand, can travel to seek food, shelter, mates, and to move away from unfavorable conditions. Since we can move, we need a cognitive system that can comprehend sensory input and intelligently make choices.
Semantics will differ for each of us, but according to many, if the stimulus-response relationship of a situation is automatic, we don't think of the response as requiring our intelligence. We don't use the word "intelligent" to describe a banana slug, even though it has a rudimentary brain. But when the brain evaluates several viable responses and chooses one (a real choice, not just following habits), the cognitive process is considered to be intelligent.
As Jean Piaget put it, intelligence is what we use when we don't already know what to do.
We immediately ask two questions: