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Dancer Turned Drug Prevention Specialist-It all fits

Dancer Turned Drug Prevention Specialist-It all fits
My name is Colleen Clark and I have been dancing for about 45 years. I got my Bachelors and Masters degrees in dance mainly because I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life.

Having been raised mostly in the Cleveland area, I was fortunate to have been exposed to a plethora of amazing modern dance companies and teachers through The Cleveland Modern Dance Association (now DANCECLEVELAND) as I was growing up.

I've performed in venues all over town and "done the circuit" of teaching at all the colleges and universities in the area (sometimes 3 or 4 at a time) as well as at local dance studios. I co-created a few small dance companies: Styrene Dances (we did interpretive dance with a jazz/rock/new wave band called The Styrenes in the '70's. The punks in the audience used to throw beer cans and yell "artsy fartsy!" at us), The Repertory Project (now Verb Ballets), and "movement, music, and..." (a sort of minimalist/performance art-ish quartet of Cheryl Wallace, her husband Billy Larkin, Chris Dahlgren, and me. The guys made gorgeous soundscapes, we choreographed and danced).

In 1999, I walked into a local social services center called RapArt to see if I could volunteer there/give back to the community and dance with their kids. I had sent my daughter there when she was a troubled teen and they had helped her immensely, so it seemed like a good fit. The director told me they had just received a grant to hire a 'dance person,' and asked if I wanted to apply.

I did. That was 1999, the year I began my new career as a drug prevention specialist. I had my first full-time job ever at the age of 43. I was delighted and astounded to actually have a regular paycheck, health insurance, a 401K, and life insurance for the first time in my life. All the social workers I worked with would complain about being overworked and underpaid (and they are!), but I was just so grateful. I guess only an artist would think they're taking a step up when they go into social work.

I did over 180 hours of training and passed a test in Columbus to receive my Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist credential in 2002. And to this day, I continue to help at-risk youth make healthy lifestyle choice utilizing dance and yoga and the good communication skills I've learned as an artist.