Today we’d like to introduce you to Avery Gillham.
Avery, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Growing up in Kennesaw, Georgia and the Metro Atlanta area, in such a technologically-driven and interconnected era of the 21st century has had such an enormous impact on my life. From the people in my life to the culture of Atlanta and being able to keep a finger on the pulse of all trends in art has helped me discover and fuel my passion for performing. My story begins in 2004 at a family cookout when, out of boredom and a sudden burst of creativity, my cousins, brother and I escaped from the adults to YouTube and threw together a choreographed dance to Usher’s “Yeah!”. After we performed for our family, my uncle turned and said to my mom, “We need to get this boy in some dance classes…” So you could say, I have had a knack for rhythm and dance from a young age. Soon after I found myself in an all-boys hip-hop class at Great Gig Dance Company. Little did I know, this would be my home for the next ten years until my enrollment at Kennesaw State University. Where I earned a BA in dance and graduated in July 2019.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of the first struggles I faced was getting into school so I could continue my dance career. On my first attempt to attend Kennesaw State University, I was denied, but I knew I wanted to be in their dance department. I appealed my enrollment and had to do extra work – (Fill out Admissions Decision Appeal Form, write a one-page letter addressing: rigor of high school curriculum, improving grades during the experience, multiple attempts at testing improving test scores, and describe why I wish to attend KSU. Then get two non-family reference letters).
Once getting into KSU, I was able to increase my GPA earning Hope scholarship and maintain it throughout my time at KSU. On the KSU website, it says, “If an appeal is approved for admission, it is often accompanied with limitations, conditions, and probation.” This showed me I could not slack off at all during my time there.
During my time at KSU, I was trying to balance school, performing with Atlanta Lyric and City Springs Theatre’s, teach hip-hop at Great Gig Dance Company and Bravo Dance Center, and have a social life. This led to one of my worst struggles, time management. I found myself struggling to keep up with school using all my absences too soon, trying to finish projects, and have enough energy to push through my dance classes for school. I found myself starting days at 8 am for school getting done at 3 pm, having KSU dance company rehearsal from 3:30-6pm, then follow with a rehearsal for a professional show 6/7-11pm.
Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a performer and love to be on stage. I am more known for being a hip-hop dancer, and that is definitely where my passion for dance and performing began. I don’t like to label myself as a specific style or one genre dancer. I try to be as well rounded as possible. I have plenty of experience working with professional musical theater and tapping looking towards Broadway as a goal. On the flip side, I keep up with my hip-hop just as much and dream of being on tour with artists such as Usher or Chris Brown.
My outgoing personality and positive attitudes have set me apart from others. I love making people smile and laugh, even if it’s cheesy. I try to bring these positive vibes into everything I do, whether it’s rehearsals, performing, working, or just being with friends and family. While I was at KSU, I met someone who introduced me to this idea and emotions, and I could not thank them enough. I noticed when I could come in with a positive attitude and make a few people happy and smile; it will spread throughout the room and lighten the whole environment.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success to me is when you have found happiness in the career field of your choice. You don’t wake up to go to work every day and dread it. You wake up knowing you’re going to work on something you love to do; it’s something you’re passionate about.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @averygillham
- Facebook: Avery Gillham
Bubba Carr, Jeffery Erhunse