An Artistic Calling

Written by | Korrie Corrin

I can honestly say that I am confident that I am where God wants me to be. He has a way of lining people and events up to work out his perfect will for your life no matter what you think you may want to do.

Growing up, I was forced by my mother to do two things, play the piano and dance ballet. She allowed me to quit the piano after 6 years (after my still being on Book 1). However, I was in ballet for the long haul. When I would express that I didn’t like dancing, she would matter-of-factly inform me, “You don’t know how to dance. That’s why you are going to dance class.” That went on for 15 years. She later informed me that she wanted me to have a skill that I could fall back on if I was ever in dire need.  

Due to my mother’s influence, I developed a penchant for the performing arts.  She would sing me to sleep with songs from The Wiz and took me to every musical that came to town. I would teach myself dances to every Janet Jackson video, among other things.  Somewhere in that 15 years I grew to love dance (I guess my mom was right, once I learned to dance I could then decide whether or not I enjoyed it enough to continue dancing).

“I loved the performing arts, but I never knew that I would be in front of the stage directing an entire production.”

Conversely, an artistic career was not realistic or logical to me. I chose to be technical, partially due to math being my best subject throughout my former years. In entering college, I just knew that I wanted to be an electrical engineer (my mother also informed me that engineering was not my personality regardless of what my school counselor and teachers suggested). Upon changing my major to journalism, I never wanted to be in front of the camera, or on the editorial side behind the camera – rather a control room director. As a journalism teacher, while I enjoyed teaching writing techniques for the different mediums, I thrived on teaching production – shooting, editing, radio recording, etc. While I enjoyed being a spectator of the arts, I was never really sold on it being something that I would actively partake in.

My interest was piqued when one of my students asked me if I would start a drama club. Although it was a world that I was unfamiliar with, there was something in me that jumped at the opportunity when this 14 year old proposed it. Granted, I loved the performing arts, but I never knew that I would be in front of the stage directing an entire production (I never thought I would be in the classroom for that matter). It was through this journey of directing and creating, that I became an active participant in the arts community.

It is also through this experience of becoming a drama director that substantiates the idea of people coming into our lives for a reason. Those with reason and purpose for being in your life shape your very existence. For me it was in 2008 when I decided to take a job as an educator. Those that helped shape the course of the next decade were the students I encountered. I like to think that we were kindred souls that became connected through the love and passion for the arts.

“I like to think that we were kindred souls that became connected through the love and passion for the arts.”

This was a group of young people who wanted to express themselves through many artistic forms with theater as facilitator. They were forced to think outside of the box and excited to try new things. They were determined to make something that seemed unlikely come to fruition. Their determination ignited the passion in me.   

In 2011, Teens N Theater (TNT) was born when I decided to break the drama club from the school and reform it as a non-profit. Although, I am no longer in the classroom, it is TNT that gives me that purpose. It allows me to reach back and ignite a fire among more of DC’s inner city youth. I find myself doing exactly what my mom did with me, taking the youth on arts-based outings which allows them to explore many forms of the arts.  

Unlike when we first began I am not the only spearhead. Fast forward almost 10 years later, those same students that were once hungry kids looking for an artistic outlet, are now TNT alumni/adults whom have graduated from college with degrees in many different artistic forms such as, theater, dance, interior design, and writing.

It is the TNT alumni who are now running my non-profit. They are my show directors, choreographers, publicists, set designers, costume designers, vocal coaches, and playwrights. They are now reaching back and pouring into the youth that are the mere picture of whom they used to be.  It is the same tenacity from the very first production that keeps TNT thriving.

“They were determined to make something that seemed unlikely come to fruition.  Their determination ignited the passion in me.”

With them now standing in the shoes that I once filled, it has allowed me to branch out into other creative streams.  Where I once never wanted to be a journalist, I find myself writing more and more these days. As I explore new ventures, the TNT alumni are my strategic planners and event organizers for promotional initiatives.  

In retrospect my mother was right about dance. Once I knew how to dance, I grew to I love it. Although I fought it, my love for the arts is rooted there. Nonetheless, I’ve been blessed to never have to use my ballet training as a backup plan to support myself as my mom suggested in those former years, but dance has taken center stage in all of TNT’s productions. I’ll even venture to say that the acting is supporting work.    

 

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