(Featured headshot photo credit: Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth)
Industry: The Arts
I use my art as my peace sign. My voice is my march. My art is my protest. -Enneressa
The ability to exude creativity, grace, and innovation via various mediums is truly a gift that many do not have. I was blessed with the pleasure to speak with someone who does this effortlessly, Ms. Enneressa Davis. Creative, well-versed and passionate, Ms. Davis loves to share her gifts with the world. Enneressa has been given the ability to merge her love for dance and education through the creation of her award-winning dance companies: Praize Productions Inc. and Rize Pro-Elite. Enneressa recently produced “The Issues of Women” a powerful work of art that showcases the struggles of the modern woman. Visit Chicago’s prestigious Columbia College Dance center on, March 25th at 7 PM, to witness this captivating and emotionally driven production live! Until then, Check out this promo for a sneak peak. Tickets can be purchased here.
Learn more about Enneressa’s journey below!
How would you describe yourself in one word?
“An artist. This word keeps me out of too many boxes and boundaries and encompasses all that I am. I am an arts educator, dancer, and creative.”
What do you love most about Chicago?
“I love that it is such a vibrant city. In the art world, people tend to run off to NY or LA for work. In more recent years, they have headed off to Atlanta. I use to think to myself, I live in one of the largest metropolitan cities. Why not build a dance community here? Why go somewhere else to build when we can create access and create opportunity in Chicago? So, that’s what I did.”
What ignited the spark in you to develop your own dance company?
“I have always had a passion for the arts and education and I knew that I wanted to own my own business. My degrees are in Secondary Eduction and Education Administration. I wanted to combine my love for the arts and teaching. I decided to create a one-stop shop academy where I could offer classes in acting, dancing, and various mediums.
I also knew that in order to have my own business and to be an effective leader, I had to properly follow in the footsteps of others. I acquired mentors and learned how to run an organization from a strategic standpoint. Through this, I was able to create Praize Productions Inc.”
What does Praize Productions mean?
“Praize was a name that I found when I asked 12 years old and it just stayed with me. Praize Productions grew into a community based 501 c3 organization. Despite the name, we are not religiously affiliated. Our dancers come from a variety of faiths. Our sole mission is to train young people and adults. “
To whom do you attribute your success?
“First and foremost GOD. All of my blessings come from him. We are faced with so many challenges and setbacks on our journeys. My faith in GOD has allowed me to triumph. I never had to look up to celebrities because I have been blessed with real life heroes. These heroes include my mother and my three awesome mentors: Angela Grayson, Kim Tyler, and Joel Hall. When I didn’t see certain qualities in myself, these people sewed and poured into me and my dreams.
When I quit my career in education, my mother said I got you for two years. Follow your dreams. Two years turned to three years and she didn’t kick me out (haha). My mom is the epitome of womanhood and feminism. She exudes class, she has a balance of class that is both bold and fearless.
Angela Grayson inspired me and taught me the “ins and outs” of the non-profit world. Kim Tyler, taught me how to produce amazing work and about owning a business. Joel Hall offered me an opportunity to dance with his company professionally. I was able to learn about the professionalism of the dance world by working with him. Even though I did not major in dance, he invested his time in helping me learn how to become a better artist and to run my own company effectively.”
What drives you to get out of bed each morning?
“My kids, I call my students my kids. I believe that GOD didn’t bless us with this life to just keep our blessings to ourselves. This belief pushes me to be a blessing to others. I know that all of the challenges that I face are not just for me. As a boss, you are not going to get appreciated all the time but as a boss, you are the biggest servant to others.
I know that when I win, my kids win. If I’m successful, all the students who look up to me are successful. I have so many people depending on me. The way I live my life will be a model for my kids. I want them to strive for more. Even when I’m tired or think things are too hard, I still have to wake up and push because I know that those I haven’t even encountered yet are rooting for me to win.”
What three pieces of advice would you give to our fellow brown girls who want to become successful while adhering to their identities?
“One, stay true to yourself and who you are. Two, take the time to realize who you are and what your worth encompasses. Investigate who you are, what your morals are, and what you can attribute to this world. Define who you are so that when the media or society tries to tell you who you are, they can not. My third piece of advice is to make sure your circle is diverse. Get older people in your circle. Most people your age have the same struggles as you. Surround yourself with more mature women and men who can really pour into your life and can help direct you on your path.”
What was your primary inspiration for “The Issues of Women”?
“When I turned 30, I felt like I was going to lose my mind (haha). I thought, OMG, you’re older, you’re a woman now, like an actual grown woman. At 30, you start thinking about family, and babies and how this effects your profession. I wrote a piece about all the questions society throws at you and all of the issues I was going through. I started to have conversations with other women in different seasons of their lives, who also had similar issues. I decided to create a work of art that pertained to issues of the mind and issues of the soul. It took me forever to write this script. The reason why is because I am still living it. It is a living organism of continuously relevant material.”
How do you plan to continue breaking boundaries within the dance community?
“Good question (haha) to paraphrase Nina Simone, “art should be reflective of the times.” As long as I mirror what I see and feel in my work, I will continue to break boundaries. Until the time I take my last breath, I will fight the boundaries that we are continuously facing as a society. Young boys are being shot like they are not even human, women are going through many trials and tribulations as well. As a double minority (woman and black), I’m going to continue battling these boundaries. I use my art as my peace sign. My voice is my march, My art is my protest. Some people March in the streets, I dance and write. Everyone should use their resources so that we can implement an effective change.”
Young boys are being shot like they are not even human, women are going through many trials and tribulations as well. As a double minority (woman and black), I’m going to continue battling these boundaries. I use my art as my peace sign. My voice is my march, My art is my protest. Some people March in the streets, I dance and write. Everyone should use their resources so that we can implement an effective change.”
Enneressa is truly wise beyond her years. She brings such an inviting and generous energy to the world. Her positivity is infectious and that is such a refreshing feeling. While many may try to dismiss the arts and it’s therapeutic properties, Ms. Davis strengthens the field and continues to motivate others to put their passion where their mouth is. She is a beautiful person inside and out. She truly is making the world a better place MashAllah (GOD has willed in Arabic).
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