Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Juilliard-bound Amari Frazier wants to change Chicago through his love of dance

A day after his 18th birthday, Amari Frazier learned he had been accepted in Juilliard.

But the real gift could be how he rewards Chicago’s South Side now and for decades to come.

Frazier, of Chatham, and a soon-to-graduate senior dancer at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, has used dance to spread love with the nonprofit he founded a year ago – Step Into Joy. He and a few friends created Step Into Joy, which performs at churches and groups for those who have been abused, first by dancing for the audience and then dancing with them.

Photo by Barbara Levy Kipper

Photo by Barbara Levy Kipper

After attending Juilliard, arguably the most prestigious performing arts school in the world, Frazier plans to return to Chicago and build on Step Into Joy to create a dance academy for those who can’t afford it.

“I feel like you need to spread love in the world, more than hate, and there’s a lot of hate on the South and West sides,” Frazier said. “I just want to change the world and change the look of the South and West sides and how people are there. There are better ways to go about things, and dance is a great way to communicate with people. I know I can use dance to really help people and putting smiles on people’s faces.”

Frazier turned 18 on March 19, and, a day later, he received a call from Juilliard saying he had been accepted. It fulfilled Frazier’s own longtime dream of attending Juilliard.

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Frazier, the youngest of four children, has been dancing since he was 2 years old as a guest of his older sister Angel’s ballet classes. Frazier’s mother, Donna, said her youngest child has always been inspired to volunteer and give back to others.

“He wants to give back to his community,” Donna Frazier said. “He sees the struggles in people, and he realizes where dance has taken him, and where it can take others.”

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Frazier is the 10th Academy student to be accepted into Juilliard during Dance Chair Randy Duncan’s tenure. Duncan said Frazier is “is a dancer of enormous talent and has a solid dedication to the art of dance.”

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

Photo by Thomas Mohr Photography

“His ability to focus is outstanding! Amari is one of those rare dancers that catches on to movement after only seeing it once,” Duncan said. “He understands and delivers the message a choreographer gives with all the technique and emotion necessary, which allows him to capture and magnify the spirit of the dance.”

Frazier said attending The Academy has been a godsend for him as a student and performer.

“I knew when I came here how much work it would take to be a dancer, but in the end, I know it’s been well worth it,” Frazier said.

And he said it’s only the beginning.

“I want provide kids who don’t have the funds for dance – because dancing is very expensive – with the resources through my foundation because everyone should have the opportunity to be able to do what they want,” Frazier said. “Dreams should be fulfilled, and they’re possible.”

For more information on Step Into Joy, please visit https://stepintojoy.wixsite.com/stepintojoy