The Story and Philosophy of Axé
It has always been a dream of mine to have my own dance company and I always knew that it was to be called Sol Vida (Sun Life/Soul Life). Through the encouragement of friends and community, Sol Vida was born at Revoluciones Collective Art Space in 2003. We are now proud to have our own space that is flourishing with life and creativity.
I have been teaching for over a decade with 25 years of practice in the dance world. I have learned a ton along the way and have been able to shape a very solid philosophy and approach to teaching dance and performing arts. It’s all about bringing out the best in each individual. It’s about giving people the space and discipline to truly define their art and be themselves. Part of our creed is that life is a “No Can’t Zone,” I want my students to believe in themselves, take risks, and become better than they ever imagined.
April (Axé) Charmaine: Artistic Director and Owner of Sol Vida Dance Studio, Freelance Choreographer, dancer and writer. She has been an active member of the Denver and Boulder Arts Community for over 25 years. In 2012, she was chosen by the Metro State University of Denver’s Alumni Association to receive the first ever “STATEMent Maker Award,” and The Sol Vida Dance Youth Tribe Company was featured on Good Day Colorado. In 2011 she was selected and appointed to the Colorado Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness. Her adult dance company, Sol Vida Dance Ensemble received the Boulder International Fringe Festival’s “Pick of the Fringe” Award in 2008 for their piece “SOL BOUND: Stomping Spirits, Breaking Free, Catch Me Beaming.”
Axé serves as the premiere choreographer for all East High School Productions. In her time at Denver’s most famous high school, she has choreographed West Side Story, Pirates of Penzance, Guys & Dolls, The Producers, Funny Girl, and Working. She has also staged five epic Pop Shows featuring over 300 students per show with the Vocal Music Department and Mr. William Taylor. Some of the most memorable medleys include: The Stevie Wonder Medley, The Michael Jackson Medley, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s Medley, and the Madonna Medley. Axé has been noted to have a gift for making dance accessible to every level of mover and for truly inspiring the youth that she encounters in a fun, interactive, and passionate way.
As a freelance choreographer and educator, she has had the opportunity to impact thousands of children in the Denver community through her work with the Colorado Ballet, Catchpenny Kids Theatre, Rocky Mountain Children’s Choir, Stanley British Primary, Kent Denver School, and dozens of other Denver Public Schools, and has also reached out to do multicultural programming with the Boulder Valley and Jefferson County School districts. She has choreographed innumerable dances for choirs and special projects. Some of the highlights include Footloose, The Lion King, Cinderella, Willy Wonka, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Wonderland.
Her training began at the age of 9. She became a pioneer student at the Denver School of the Arts when it was at Cole Middle School, gaining great mentorship from the likes of Kathy Hayes, Baba Fred, Curtis Fraser, Iruka Hikaru, and Justine Zollo; all teachers who have impacted her philosophy and style. She auditioned and became a member of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance TraininGroup from 1992-1993, honing her ballet, Dunham, Horton, West African, Egyptian, and jazz dancing technique.
Axé has been to Ghana, West Africa twice to study dancing and drumming—the first immersion in 1998 with the Ghana Dance Ensemble. The second in 2007 with the Mensah Family, who are well known in the Boulder African Arts community. She also studied the dances of the Orishas with Taninobe’ Brazilian Music and Dance Ensemble from 2007-2008. In 2002, she graduated from Metro State University of Denver with an Individualized Degree in Writing and Performance. In 2009, she passed the Colorado PLACE Content Exam in Drama. She continues her practice of learning by studying as many different styles of dance, movement therapies and theatrical arts as possible.
She has appeared as a dancer in the Aurora Fox Theatre production of The Emperor Jones, MSCD’s Blues for Mr. Charlie, Hydraulics Phat Like mean, Rappers Stopping Violence and Prejudice. She directed the one-act play Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist, and was chosen as the first artist in residence at PlatteForum and created, choreographed, performed and directed a piece entitled, Cry Me a River, No Mo’.
Personal Production History
Blues for Mr. Charlie, Cry Me a River, No Mo’, Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist, Runaways, The Emperor Jones, SOL BOUND: Stomping Spirits, Breaking Spirits, Catch Me Beaming (2008 Pick of The Fringe Winners), Allied Witches Convention, Rappers Stopping Violence and Prejudice, Hydraluics Phat Like Mean and many Sol Vida dances along the way!
It has always been my goal to give back to the world all the gifts I received in my dance and life classrooms. I’d like to acknowledge the people who have helped me to become who I am as a dancer, teacher and human being.
Karla Lewis, Justine Zollo, Iraku Hikaru, Nejla Yatkin, Cleo Parker Robinson, Melissa Michaels, Baba “Fred”, Curtis Fraser, Tanya Reed Russell, Ronnie Whittaker, Robin and Jody Gayton, Susan Richardson, Thomas Dixon, Rosangle Silvestre, Benjamin and Mercy Ayette, Kathy Hayes, Dr. Marilyn “Cookie” Hetzel, DeAndre’ Carroll, Jay Riley, Melody Duggan, Will Taylor, Lisa Cameron, Lee Lee Newcomb, Josh Putnam, you and you and you!