First off, McClendon Jones defies normal assumptions of nimbleness and dexterity when she leaps, twists, pirouettes and contorts her lithe frame at seemingly incomprehensible angles on stage — yet does it in such a way that it literally comes off as poetry in motion.
Secondly, the Atlanta native defies the popular but erroneous notion that you cannot translate your passion for performing arts into a profitable enterprise. The multifaceted business she founded, AREA (Atlanta’s Resource for Entertainment & Arts), in Midtown Atlanta is the quintessential example of this.
Lastly, McClendon Jones defies the assumption that the artistically inclined cannot also be astute businesspeople.
The Clark Atlanta University business grad has created a multi-layered business with AREA that enables many forms of arts and entertainment to blossom: there’s AREA Performs, the performing division of AREA, which allows students, pre-professionals and professionals to take part in different entities; Atlanta Dance Connection, the official professional dance company; PAPY (Performing Arts Program for Youth), a group that’s focused on theater and performing arts; and AREA Motion, a curriculum-based training center for music, dance and drama for students ages 2 to 17.
McClendon Jones, the former choreographer for the Atlanta Hawks and current all-around choreographer for her alma mater, is so proficient at her craft that she’s also worked with India.Arie for her album release party. Also, Kanye West appointed her to help him open the inaugural BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta.
“Just having all of these experiences, all of those parts of what I was exposed to in the arts and entertainment industry, was beautiful. Dancers just don’t dance. We’re also actors and we have to be quite familiar with music and I wanted to bring that all together and create AREA,” she said.
And with each separate but intertwining part coming together, AREA thrives. Included in AREA is a consultation room where professionals facilitate private lessons in everything from piano and voice to table reads for drama and theater. AREA is also comes equipped with a recording studio, sound booth, vocal booth, and an in-house band named Blaque Pearl.
This is a place where dreams can do more than sprout — they can get completed. That’s why it’s impossible to walk through AREA without feeling inspired and hoping to take a piece of the atmosphere with you.
“Our core beliefs,” said McClendon Jones, “are that through our facility and diverse environment, our students’ enjoyment and appreciation for the performing arts will be enhanced.” –terry shropshire
Learn about AREA’s many artistic offerings and performances via www.myareaatlanta.com.