(Updated 05/31/2016) A Washington, D.C. resident hopes to build upon her previous work with youth by opening an independent dance center to serve even more local children.

Nya Johnson has a long history in dance, has volunteered with special needs youth at the Maryland Youth Ballet, and has offered afterschool programming to D.C. Public Schools students for the past seven years.

Her new dance center, set to open this summer, will be located in Largo, Md. and will offer free dance workshops and reduced rates.

“My main thing is to help students cultivate creativity, self-esteem and discipline through dance,” Johnson said. “Growing up in Massachusetts, I used to watch my mother dance, was the only black synchronized swimmer during her time and I knew I wanted to follow that drive and incorporate youth development.”

The new dance center will not only offer ballet classes, but creative movement and boxing sessions as well. It will be open to students of all experience levels and races, but place an emphasis on the surrounding Black community.

“Dance is important and is more intricate than just the actual dancing involved,” Johnson said. “I believe everyone should get an opportunity to experience it.”

Johnson began teaching dance courses at Shepherd Elementary School in Northwest D.C. in 2009, after realizing the school had no dance program. She currently teaches more than 75 students weekly, ranging from Pre-K to second grade.

“I believe each person has his or her own special calling of greatness and sharing the gift of dance is my form of therapy,” Johnson said.

For more information on the new center please contact Johnson at:  TheFocusIsOurChildren@gmail.com