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Meet Chasta Hamilton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chasta Hamilton.

Hi Chasta, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up in Mohawk, TN, a small town between Knoxville and Johnson City. I had a very imaginative childhood, rooted in creativity and play. This passion for the performing arts provided an outlet to process the trauma of losing both of my parents at an early age (I was 21 months old when I lost my dad to a truck accident and 9 years old when I lost my mom to cancer).

When I received a full, academic scholarship to NC State University, I was excited to move to a metro area, but I wasn’t sure the arts would be a “scholarly pursuit”. So, I figured I’d become an attorney. It seemed like there could be theatre in law. After an undergrad internship with the NC Attorney General, I knew the legal sphere wasn’t for me, and I traded the BAR exam for the ballet barre for good.

At 22 years old, I decided to take a leap of faith and opened the first location of Stage Door Dance Productions.

I wanted to run a good business and establish a strong brand, but when I started, I was checking the list of what everyone else did. Five years in, we were successful and running multiple locations. But, some of our offerings were not aligned with my vision. We initiated a major rebrand, which included extracting our studios from the competitive dance sphere to focus on the humanistic and artistic components of each and every child. This was risky and bold, but it was one of the best moves I’ve ever made. I wrote about it in my first book, Trash the Trophies: How to Win Without Losing Your Soul.

At the time, we didn’t know it, but this rebrand would pave the way for our COVID resilience. By focusing on community and connection, we were able to survive the near collapse of everything we had built. This collective global crisis allowed me an opportunity to reflect on my journey: past, present, and future. I was called to lead in a way I hadn’t experienced, and because of my experiences, I was ready for the challenge.

I shared this journey in my TEDx Talk “You Weren’t Built to Break” and elaborated on it in my newest book, Handle the Horrible: Change. Triage. Joy.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Recently, I’ve been given the nickname: “The Queen of Pivots, and Not Just Turns.”

I can teach an incredible jazz dance class, but I’ve found that I can pivot pretty fast in other ways, too. I am becoming a master in personal and professional change management.

Personal struggles have included: processing grief and loss, finding my authentic voice, and breaking barriers of societal expectation.

Professional struggles have included: disrupting the standards of our industry, saving a small business in the pandemic, and staying energized to inspire others along the way.

Obstacles and challenges are two things we can count on, but if we leverage them to our power, we can find opportunities in the process.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Dance and Theater are my heart, but I’ve found a way to execute both through my businesses. As you see, the heart of art lies in empowering and inspiring others. By title, I am the Founder/CEO of Stage Door Dance Productions and the Founder/President of Girls Geared For Greatness, but my work goes far beyond the institution and organization.

It also encompasses every person I connect with through my books, my speaking, and my freelance work.

Through these experiences, we develop excellent technicians (in a variety of fields), but more importantly, we create exceptional human beings that are empathetic, motivated, and confident in their voice and power to change the world.

My uniqueness lies in my vulnerability- it took a long time for me to feel comfortable and confident in leaning into my truth. Once I started, I realized that storytelling is an art, life is a show, and we can leverage both to create deeper and more meaningful connections.

What would you say has been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
No doesn’t mean never, it simply means not right now.

Keep going. Keep putting yourself out there.

Rejection is a redirection, not a roadblock.

Persevere. Adapt. Be resilient.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Cat Ford-Coates, Areon Mobasher, and Sarah Hoag Photography

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