Updated: Aug 6
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Zach Edwards
Current Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Zach, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I started my life-long relationship with the arts when I was in middle school through recreational dance classes and acting lessons. During middle school I trained with South Coast Repertory’s acting and improvisation programs, and in junior high I began a, thankfully, short lived love affair with musical theatre, and started performing with a local community theatre. While I learned a lot during my few years of musicals, I also admittedly lip synced my way through many ensemble numbers. A highlight of this portion of my life would be forgetting nearly every word to “Seventy Six Trombones.” which lead to about three minutes of us marching around to the instrumental track. Needless to say, I quickly gave up musical theatre and went back to my roots in acting and dance.
In high school, I joined the Academy for the Performing Arts in Huntington Beach, where I fell even more in love with dance. When I auditioned for the dance department, I felt like a fish out of water, being surrounded by kids who were bent and stretched every which way. Determined to make it to that level, I was in classes and rehearsals every week for hours. In my final years at the Academy, I reached the highest dance performing ensemble, and began performing at concerts and festivals across Southern California. I even had the opportunity to compete in New York and the Czech Republic, which were both so fulfilling and exciting.
After graduating I joined a small professional dance company and continued dancing, but wasn’t confident in my future as a dancer. I began working at my alma mater as the Assistant to the Artistic Director, eventually being promoted to Outreach Coordinator. Facilitating opportunities in the arts changed my perspective and offered me invaluable intrinsic rewards. I studied Kinesiology for a few semesters before becoming a Dance major at Orange Coast College, but still felt like something was missing.
In 2017 I became part of the inaugural class of University of California Irvine’s Arts Management Certificate program, which changed the direction of my life forever. After completing UCI’s program, I applied to the University of Massachusetts’ University Without Walls program, where I will graduate this Spring with my BA in Arts Management.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
For the past few years I have been working with an international dance competition, where I oversee the backstage and stage management components of the regional tours. I really enjoy being able to experience dance all around the country while facilitating performance and learning opportunities for young dancers at the same time. I am also focusing my energy on personal artistic projects and have taken a lot of this year to reflect and brainstorm.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is to slow down, enjoy the process, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
There is no timeline for success or happiness.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
Most of my inspiration comes from the desire to continue providing arts opportunities to children, in hopes they can experience the arts’ transformative power as I did. Both of my grandparents supported me heavily throughout my journey in the arts, driving me to rehearsals, and never failing to miss a performance, even if I was just a tree in the background for one scene. Though they are not here anymore I still feel them beside me in everything I do, and they inspire me to continue pushing forward even when times get rough.
The mission of The Rose is to make the arts accessible in the community. What purpose do you think the arts or artists play in today's society?
Every artist has their own reason for creating, but at the end of the day I believe artists provide the textures of a community. Without art, music, and dance, we are left with the basics. When the pandemic hit, we all gravitated towards the arts in some way, whether it be Netflix, painting, online performances, music, and so on. Artists and patrons alike both play vital roles in keeping communities alive. In a way I feel like when artists produce content, they are subconsciously enabling others to embrace their creativity and find their passions, creating somewhat of a domino effect.
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
Simply put, I hope the industry continues on the path it is on. In the past few years arts organizations have been increasingly prioritizing conversations on DEI and accessibility, which has been an issue for too long. With an increased awareness of culturally specific organizations, I hope that as mainstream organizations make these necessary changes, the smaller grassroots groups who embody diversity are not diminished or forgotten.
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