Candi Hall (Founder/Executive Director/Reality Check Director) came to Tacoma from Atlanta, GA where she danced professionally with the international Hip-Hop Dance organization Culture Shock. She has been professionally involved the arts since age six, and has been dancing professionally for fourteen years. As a child, she began taking traditional dance lessons. However, as a single parent of two active girls, her mother could not sustain the cost of her lessons so Candi had to discontinue her dance education. But, Candi’s passion for dance and performance never died. Regina Conti, Musical Director for a local theatre house and elementary school teacher, took a vested interest in Candi. From age six to fifteen, Candi was trained formally in voice and began winning local talent shows. She went on to perform in several Broadway and Off-Broadway plays, including, Annie, Oklahoma, and West Side Story. At Age ten, Candi had the privilege of being a featured soloist with the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra and the first African American youth to be cast as “Annie” in South Florida theatrical community (although community pressure made the Director re-cast). Candi has done studio work for top producers and studio houses in the entertainment field, including Dallas Austin, DARP, RedZone, Arista and Sony producers and songwriters. Candi toured the US and Canada for four years as Principal Cast member and media spokesperson for the award-winning Hip Hop stage show “FMA Live.” After leaving the cast, she worked for three years as wardrobe stylist for the show. Additionally, Candi worked as choreographer for four years with Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center in Seattle. Candi is represented by Big Fish Talent Agency and works locally in commercials, video, and film. She enjoys doing community theater, when her schedule allows, at Tacoma Musical Playhouse and Tacoma Little Theatre.
In her college years at Georgia Tech, Candi decided she wanted to give underprivileged youth the same opportunity she had to explore and develop her artistic abilities. Candi worked for three years with the City of Atlanta in the Techwood Housing Projects as Performing Arts Director. Working hands-on with kids , Candi watched the kids’ self-esteem, self-value, level of respect for others and academic abilities develop and grow as they participated in her program. Through Culture Shock Atlanta, she helped develop, coordinate, and execute Youth Dance Workshops. She also worked with the Eastside Boys and Girls club, choreographing for the dance team and cheerleaders.
Upon coming to Tacoma, Candi took notice of her younger sister’s potential and began looking for opportunities for her to develop her artistry. DASH Center for the Arts is the birth child of that search. While attending classes with her sister, especially the Hip-Hop class, Candi discovered that training was quite lacking for youth whose parents didn’t have real funds to pay for dance lessons. She began teaching classes at local junior high schools and community centers, again noticing the wealth of potential the kids had.
Always being taught that the way you show appreciation for the gifts, opportunities, and blessings you have been given is to give them to others, Candi created DASH. The DASH Center for the Arts is a vision of a gift, opportunities and blessings for a number of Tacoma-Pierce County youth.
How DASH formed
Once Candi focused her energies on the Tacoma community, she noticed the lack of artistic outlets for youth. She recognized early on that for lower-income and minority youth, the majority of support programs focused on athletics only. Candi knew firsthand that sports were not the only “way out” and not the only way to achieve success. The more she began to work with the youth of Reality Check, the more she noticed the other talents these kids possessed. Candi developed a summer program called “Club FAME” in which kids would spend the entire summer, Monday – Friday, four hours a day, honing their dancing, acting and singing skills. When by the end of the summer a young Roxanne Cano, who at the start of the summer project would cry when asked to sing in front of a group, sang “Over the Rainbow” in front of the entire class and visitors, Candi knew this was what these youth were missing. It wasn’t just the dancing, not just the academic challenges and not just singing, it was something that incorporated all of their abilities.
On April 11, 2003 DASH Center for the Arts was born. DASH started as an acronym, standing for Dancing, Acting, and Singing in Harmony. For a long time, those three skills were the organization’s primary focus. However, since entering DASH Center’s current facility on MLK Jr. Way in 2006, DASH has grown beyond simply dancing, acting, and singing to encompass empowerment, determination and encouragement. No matter how much DASH grows, its original mission and youth-focus will not change.