CJay Philip , award winning actress, director and choreographer, uses her creative abilities to help parents connect with their children as artistic director of the arts organization, Dance and Bmore. (Photo : Courtesy of danceandbmore.com)

By Tawanda W. Johnson,
Special to the AFRO

While some parents are struggling to connect with the young people in their homes, others have figured out the cheat code of using the arts to improve the parent-child relationship. 

For Lisa Tinch, of Reisterstown, Md., connecting with her daughter, Autumn, meant joining Dance and Bmore, an organization focused on “providing teaching, performance and networking opportunities to the local professional dance community,” according to information released by the group. 

“I became involved with Dance and Bmore because I wanted an activity that promoted the arts and afforded me the opportunity to bond with my daughter in an area that she is interested in,” Tinch told the AFRO. 

Founded in 2010 by Artistic Director CJay Philip, Dance and Bmore is a Baltimore-based ensemble of dancers, musicians and theater-makers who create new and engaging performances and programs for all ages. 

“I created youth and family programs with the belief that meeting the needs of the whole family is key to fostering lasting change,” said Philip. “Empowering parents and caregivers with tools to encourage their children’s creativity and healthy self-esteem strengthens the entire family.” 

Tinch said she and Autumn have had an “amazing experience” participating in a variety of programs through Dance and Bmore. The pair has participated in multiple programs offered by Dance and Bmore, to include Broadway Live, featuring high-caliber productions that showcase Baltimore talent; the Art Mentorship Camp, which introduces third- through sixth-graders to onstage and offstage production skills– including acting, creative writing and stage management and the FazaFam Family Jam, which connects families through music, dancing and games. 

Dance and Bmore also boasts more than a dozen community partners who support their programs, including Enoch Pratt Libraries, Judy Centers, Camp Curiosity, Village Learning Place and the Center for Urban Families. 

Tinch said Philip’s professional and gentle demeanor have set the foundation for her daughter to thrive in the arts. 

“Over the years, under the direction of Ms. Philip, my daughter has cultivated her love and passion for theater and performing,” said Tinch. “She has acquired skills in improvisation, dance techniques, prop usage and lighting for theater. Dance and Bmore has helped my daughter blossom from a shy adolescent to a confident, assertive and talented teenager.” 

Autumn’s experience with Dance and Bmore is paying off, not only through a stronger bond with her mother, but also in preparation for her career in the arts. 

“Under Ms. Philip’s teaching, my daughter secured a New York agent and was featured in national commercials, voiceovers, and several local projects,” said Tinch. “(She has also) participated in the inaugural ‘Voices of Carmen,’ a play, written and directed by Ms Philip and performed at the Kennedy Center.” 

Autumn said she’s thrilled about her participation in the ensemble’s programs. 

“I am excited that Dance and Bmore allows me to learn all aspects of the arts– such as acting, costume design, stage presence and sound,” she said. “I love the opportunities to perform for the community and the support and love we receive from them.” 

Philip remains optimistic about Dance and Bmore’s future to continue to offer programs that strengthen families through the arts.  

“Thanks to the Baltimore Children and Youth Fund’s grassroots grant, Dance and Bmore programs have hired a full-time director of youth and family programs for the first time in our organization’s history,” she said. “The youth director oversees all youth programs and our Teaching Artist Training program. We are so excited about this program because it’s a fulfillment of our mission.” 

Philip added that many of the teaching artists previously participated in Dance and Bmore’s programs. 

“They have come full circle with paid positions, giving back to kids like them in the community,” she said.