A few days before this year’s Brampton Arts Council’s (BAC) annual mayor’s luncheon, artistic director and choreographer Jade Jager Clark learned she was the 2012 Arts Person of the Year.
She says she was overwhelmed by the recognition but knocked over when the provincial government, the City of Brampton and Peel Regional Council honored her accomplishment at the awards ceremony. She also received honorary life membership from the BAC.
“This is far more than I expected,” said Clark, who established Jade’s Hip Hop Academy in Brampton in 2006. “I am so deeply honored to be recognized by the Brampton community of which I have been part of for the past seven years. My main motivation is my kids who inspire me to go above and beyond my role as a business owner, dance teacher and choreographer.”
At 24, Clark is the youngest winner of the award, which was launched in 1989.
Starting a dance team at age 14 at Peterborough Collegiate, Clark oversaw the drop-in dance program at the Brampton YMCA for a nearly a year before opening her academy with just 18 students. Nearly 240 youth, ranging in age from three to 18, are currently enrolled in the academy.
Last month, the academy won six titles at the United Dance Organization World Street Dance Championships in Blackpool, England. Lack of funding prevented them from competing in the World Hip Hop Championships in Germany three years ago.
Just over a year ago, six academy hip hoppers traveled to New York to audition for “America’s Best Dance Crew,” the competitive dance reality TV series that features street dance teams.
“I am very passionate about dance and teaching young kids the art,” said Clark, who is the recipient of a Zonta Woman of Achievement Award, a Harry Jerome Award and a 2006 City of Brampton Arts Acclaim Award. “It’s important for me that young people have access to dance programs and that they could learn how to use their talent to inspire others.”
Earlier this year, she was presented with the Brampton Outstanding Business Achievement Award for Emerging Business.
Clark, who teaches all elements of hip hop dance, including popping, locking, breaking and krump, is the Dance Ontario Youth Board director and a Dance Ontario board director.