Angela Harris, American Express Emerging Leader Awardee

2011 Honoree - American Express Emerging Leader Award


Angela Harris, our 2011 American Express Emerging Leader Awardee, is the Executive Artistic Director of Dance Canvas, Inc., an Atlanta-based career development organization for emerging professional choreographers and youth. Ms. Harris conceived and founded Dance Canvas after witnessing the difficult path and lack of professional opportunities for young choreographers. Additionally, Dance Canvas was envisioned to create relatable professional dance experiences and new dance patrons in the Atlanta area.

In three short years, Dance Canvas has presented World Premier choreography from 27 emerging professional choreographers, showcased more than 150 professional dancers, introduced over 500 children and teens to dance through the DC NEXT youth program curriculum, and performed for over 10,000 new audience members. Ms. Harris has been instrumental in developing youth dance and career development programs for the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Grammy award winning recording artist, Usher’s New Look Foundation, and the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. She has forged innovative partnerships with the Atlanta Ballet, Atlantic Station, The Atlanta Opera, and Kennesaw State University, and has been a catalyst and resource for numerous new dance organizations throughout metro Atlanta. She is a member of Emerging Arts Leaders of Atlanta, and has been an “Emerging Leaders” scholarship recipient from Americans for the Arts in 2006, 2008, and 2010. 

Additionally, Ms. Harris, herself, is a choreographer and dancer originally from Baltimore, MD, and a graduate of The Baltimore School for the Arts. Ms. Harris received her dance training at Dance Theater of Harlem, School of the Hartford Ballet, and The Eglevsky Ballet. She attended Mercyhurst College and City College of New York, earning a B.A. in Journalism, while on full ballet scholarship at Steps on Broadway in NYC. Ms. Harris danced corps de ballet and soloist rolls with The Georgia Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, Ballet Savannah and Urban Ballet Theater in NYC. Besides dance, Ms. Harris’ Atlanta theater performance credits include Sophisticated Ladies and Degas’ Little Dancer (u/s) at the Tony award-winning Alliance Theatre, as well as Camelot, Guys & Dolls, Chicago and Annie Get Your Gun at the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Georgia. In 2009, Ms. Harris was selected by Jasmine Guy to be a soloist dancer in her “Daughters of Alpha” production in New Orleans.

In addition to performing, Ms. Harris’ choreography has been presented by The Georgia Ballet, Dance Canvas, Ballet Dalton, Savannah Arts Academy, Dekalb School for the Arts, and in two New York City premieres at Steps on Broadway. She has been a master class instructor and guest artist at many dance institutions across the county, including University of New Mexico, Dozier Center for the Arts, The Georgia Ballet and the Keshet Dance Company in New Mexico. Ms. Harris was the Ballet Director at The Studio Atlanta Dance from 2002 – 2010, and is currently on faculty at Academy of Ballet in Norcross, GA and the Dekalb School for the Arts.