We had the good fortune of connecting with Ann Woodruff and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ann, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
I have always valued truth, transparency, and understanding both in my personal and profession lives.

As the leader of a non-profit aerial dance and arts organization I feel that I am guiding a very large ship full of athletes, artists, performers and audience members. There are many different roles that a person can take on when participating at Canopy and as long as we interact with each other with respect and kindness, the ship stays afloat and moving forward.
Within the non-profit world, I strive to provide a safe space for creation and collaboration and welcome artists of all mediums to help to build links to creators and teachers in communities everywhere, we strive to bring new performances and learning opportunities to Northeast Georgia. I see us as a resource for local artists and all individuals, regardless of background, age, or physical ability, providing instruction in movement arts and a much-needed venue for viewing and participating in performances.

Before taking the role of Executive Director I was the Outreach and Children’s Programming Director, this allowed me to combine skills from teaching Special Education with aerial dance. We developed programs so that we could welcome all students into the air, regardless of the level of support they might need to have access. We continue to welcome every person that wants to try aerial arts; we accommodate different learning styles and modalities of movement, and frequently collaborate with students and their support networks to modify and support therapeutic and educational goals.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I haven’t been into Atlanta in years, as a single mother and member of a multigenerational household, my time outside of work centers on my home and my family. Our “circle” of activities center in the small arts town of Watkinsville GA, located about 75 minutes NorthEast of Atlanta, despite being a small town we have amazing restaurants and a vibrant arts scene. I would like to spot light these female and minority owned businesses in Watkinsville:
We recently renovated a 1870 home on Main Street and enjoy the following places with in walking distance.

Bakery – Kiki’s bake shop. I LOVE the key lime pie bars and the pimento cheese https://kikisbakeshop.com

Grab a sandwich from Krimson Kafe and go for a walk in one of the two wooded parks in downtown Watkinsville. The Watkinsville Woods (Parking on Jackson Terrace, or use the walking entrance on Main St.) is where I played as a child before it was a public park. There are 6 acres of trails, and ADA accessible trail and two creeks. The other park is Harris Shoals park, there is a nice playground, shoals to splash around on and walking trails that follow the creek back through a marsh and eventually to a lake. https://www.krimsonkafe.com

Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation is located on School Street and has a an almost 30 year history in Watksinville. OCAF was created to enrich lives and help build a vibrant community through the arts. OCAF maintains a vision to inspire creativity, learning, and personal growth through visual arts exhibitions, art education, cultural events, and community collaborations. https://ocaf.com

Where to eat: White Tiger Deluxe, great, kid friendly food, a bar and a ***Disco Bathroom*** https://whitetigerdeluxe.com

Mama Nings, (high end) Thai food to rival anything I’ve found in larger cities. I love the Crispy Duck and the Tom Kha. My family and I walk down the sidewalk to eat here on special occasions http://www.mamaningsthai.com/about/

Fill your heart and give back at Extra Special People. https://espyouandme.org I fell that my experience working at ESP was the most pivotal experience I had as a teen and young adult, I because a special ed teacher as a result and model my leadership style on my mentor’s the late, great Martha Wyllie.. (I worked here for 11 summers, I rode my bike everyday from my home to the ESP building.) ESP is a program for kids and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to include the Board of Directors and Repertory Performance Company of Canopy Studio, the support of these two groups makes the work that we do at Canopy possible. Our board is a “working board” they are fully engaged in the vision of the studio and committed to our future growth. The Repertory Company forms the backbone of the teaching and performance staff, members of the company lead classes and workshops and present two major performances a year. With almost 80 classes offered each week plus workshops, student performances and community outreach – the Canopy staff, teachers and Repertory Company work to continue the generosity of spirit and commitment with which the organization began.

Website: www.canopystudio.org

Instagram: @canopystudio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/canopytrapezestudio

Other: tik toc Canopy Studio

Image Credits
Shannah Montgomery and the staff of Canopy Studio

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