We had the good fortune of connecting with Ronnie J Anderson, Jr and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ronnie J, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I personally can’t pinpoint my success to one important factor. I believe there are a few major factors behind the current success of my personal artistry and brand. My personality and goals for life has always been serious and about presenting a product of excellence, whether it was academics, performing arts, or even expressing my personal brand. The drive to want to be more than the stereotypes and stigmas of my hometown and surroundings has always put me in a position to strive for more, network with diverse populations, and be “MY BEST SELF.” My current success could not be what it is without having the support and wisdom of great mentors and parents in my life. Each portion of my life, from an adolescence to a young adult, has been guided and mentored by great and wise individuals pushing me further beyond my comfort and caring for my success.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently the Program Specialist of East Athens Educational Dance Center in Athens, Georgia. What I love about my current work is being able to be that Professional guidance for my students in the same fashion that I had prominent individuals guide me. Without this facility, a lot of the students that we serve would not have the opportunity to train in the art of dance. I use every class and rehearsal on my job to give them the best training and information in hopes that they will used that information to become a professional dancer as well or on another profession. With the current climate of our country, it has pushed African Americans, other minority groups, and allies to bring the stories and experiences of Black stories to the forefront and mainstream. I have always celebrated my heritage and history of my people, but it recent yers I have dedicated the majority of my work to telling the stories of my people and giving insight to the Black experience through the art of dance; directly or indirectly. Having strong mentors with these ideals and concepts has help develop my vision for how I would like to convey these stories. Where I am today in my professional career is truly by the Grace of God. The pathways and people I’ve met on the journey has been amazing. Because our society doesn’t adequately disperse the wealth of knowledge and information that is truly out there, I had to play “catch up.”Attending a College with students from all over the world bringing in years and years of Information, Skillsets, and Opportunities I never had was the challenge. Not feeling adequately equipped for College Academics and Professional Dance was a serious challenge, but I didn’t let those challenges overtake what I wanted to accomplish. The “Catch Up” game is so familiar to Blacks and other minority people, but it doesn’t break us; just a page in the story.
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.
In a perfect world without COVID-19, I would definitely tank my visiting friend to any of the Summer Festivals in ATL or Athens. The Arts, Music, and Food Festivals are amazing. I love the atmosphere and crowds that attend these events are fun to be a round and great for networking and just having a great time. My friends and I love Dave & Buster’s, Go-Karting, and the Inside Skydive. We have to indulge in our youthful side every now and then. To relax, My dance friends and I love going to Jeju Spa in Gwinnett. The meditating steam room and stretching in the Saunas are amazing and great for taking care of our bodies and mental states. We are open to visiting new places and meeting new people. Anywhere in the City with good Food is a plus in our books.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Over the years and throughout each section of my life, I’ve had tremendous mentors that really instilled greatness and “Black Excellence” into life. There are various traits and characteristics of each individual that I pinched off during our moments of teaching and mentorship and store them in my bank for future. As I have moved further into a young adult and emerging artist, I consistently withdraw from my bank using those things given to me from those individuals. Shoutout to : My Father and Mother, Ronnie and Betty Anderson of Macon, GA; Pilar Wilder-Lowden, Founder and Director of Hayiya Dance Theatre of Macon, GA; Nikki Barjon of Atlanta Ga Public Relations Firm, Branding & Marketing Development; Tamara Thomas of New York College Professor and Creator of Tamara Thomas Dance & CADE:NCE (Contemporary African Dance Ensemble: New Conscious Exploration); Lois Thomas-Ewings of Athens, GA Former Facility Supervisor of the East Athens Educational Dance Center; and Nena Gilreath and Waverly T Lucas, II of Founders of Ballethnic Dance Company, East Point, GA.
Photo: Donald Fuller, Lenz Capd