We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Smith & Shanelle Criss-Paxton and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chris and Shanelle, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
-My thoughts on starting my own business began with the faith of my business partner & co founder, Shanelle Criss Paxton. She approached me one day with the idea. We sat down and discussed a vision for GBC, and in my heart I knew that she was the strength and support I needed to move forward in my career as a choreographer & creative director. -Chris Smith

– I wanted to create a space for self expression for kids that looked like my own! Simply put, I wanted those who wanted to dance to be able to do so without worrying weather or not they could afford it, and I knew that Chris was the one to ensure that the quality of the program was extraordinarily top notch.
-Shanelle Paxton

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

This career chose me!
I love creating, working with other creatives, training eager minds! This career forces you to hustle daily, but through that comes a new discovery or growth artistically. I’m so grateful to be able to wake up every morning to do what I love- it’s fulfilling and I hope and pray that those types of mornings don’t end anytime soon.

Our work benefits the world and community by guiding young potential artist in underserved communities. We provide the proper tools, knowledge and training that’s needed to be successful in the entertainment industry. Experiencing so many life lessons myself, I know things would be better if I had type of support and guidance the GBC provides its students.

It’s not always easy. I feel the risk of it all is the time you must commit. The time it takes to build a dream , the time it takes to build community, and the time it takes to learn and perfect your craft is priceless.

Risks have taken me on a journey that , I truly know is the greatest part and accomplishment of my life. Being able to raise and develop young artist, is proof and testimony that I’m doing what GOD assigned me to do. I take great pride in knowing my artistic opinion threads through other artist and impacts them. The words and actions of a mentor can shape a persons life negatively or positively and I chose the latter. -Chris

If someone were to take something from our story, I hope it’s to support one another and to teach that concept to our children. Our culture unfortunately, sometimes teaches us to only look out for ourselves, meanwhile, every other race looks out for their own. We are stronger together! We need to uplift each other, show love to your sister or brother, support what they are doing and in turn, they should support you. We should want to see each other win without feeling any threat, envy, or hate. Our children should be taught to be the Kings & Queens that they are. Speak prosperity over their lives and pour into their dreams.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Unfortunately, because of my schedule, I don’t get a chance to “play” as often as I would like, but I would say any time spent ocean side is by far my favorite. I love seafood, so I often grab a bag of Cajun crab legs from The Crab Shack in Gardena. (I eat it at home to skip the table manners lol) I also love California Fish Grill in Gardena. -Shanelle

Chris’ favorite food spot is Stevie’s Creole Cafe’ on Pico!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We would like to dedicate our shoutout to the families who supported GBC from the start, and continued to support as we navigated our way through any growing pains of the program in its early years. We are beyond grateful for their loyalty and trust. Watching that first group of students grow in their craft, in their lives, and within themselves, has to be the most rewarding part of all of this.

Instagram: Gbcdance

Other: Gbconservatory@gmail.com

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