We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelby Elsbree & Jessica Cohen and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shelby Elsbree & Jessica Cohen, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
The performing arts industry presents outwardly as a shining & shimmering display of polished talent. What is less obvious is how few resources actually exist in supporting the human beings under the spotlights. Performing artists work tirelessly to refine their craft, often at the cost of intensely physical, emotional, and mental expenditure. What is not often provided for them is accessible, intentional practices and communities for their emotional wellbeing and mental health, something that artists are craving now more than ever. Cue Artists Becoming: the wellness workshop for performing artists. A program uniquely designed for artists, by artists that is tailor-made with performing artists specific career paths in mind. We’ve created a monthly program that combines on-demand visual meditation, thematic yoga practices, integrative work & guest artist mentorship all inside of a private community for their becoming.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The path of a performing artist is inherently unique… While we share a number of city/company/training overlaps, we’ve held definitively original careers.

Shelby: After training for 5 years with the School of American Ballet in NYC, I pursued my professional dance career as a member of The Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark for 4 years. Opportunity brought me closer to home, where I joined the Boston Ballet, rounding out a 7-year career as a ballerina before retiring from the stage to pursue my higher education at Columbia University. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, I gained multiple Yoga Teacher Certifications and began a new career path, following health-tech and developing corporate wellness programming for companies across the country. The pandemic inspired a yearning & thirst to reconnect with the performing artists in my life, with the industry I’d dedicated the majority of my life to in a meaningful way. Artists Becoming was brewing all along… a resource I’d longed for as a dancer myself, and with Jessica, a realization of my gifts, my history, my mission to leave a world of brilliant artists even better than we found it. The lesson I come back to again and again is the practice of releasing the “answers” and rather, asking better questions— learning to live in them and lead by them.

Jessica: I pursued a career in classical ballet, & was able to make that dream a reality by dancing with Northern Ballet in England and The Sarasota Ballet. About 6 years into my professional ballet career, a part of my artistic soul felt unfulfilled and I knew that I was ready to take the bold leap towards new stages and another career I had envisioned for myself – Broadway. I booked the An American in Paris First National Tour and from there was humbled to join the cast of CATS on Broadway as Sillabub. After CATS, I played the role of Veruca Salt in the First National Tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. At this point, I knew it was time to forge my next new venture, which meant moving back to my home-state California to pursue new ways of finding my creative voice. This manifested in the creation of my first film which I co-wrote, produced and starred in – Busted, and led me to the birth of Artists Becoming which has been the merging point of my passion for the performing arts and my life-long vision to move into a space of wellness & healing. A lesson that has showed up for me as a theme throughout is to allow myself to be fluid, not rigid, in the path of my artistic becoming & to not resist the failures, or the moments of challenge that have proven to be the very rich and pivotal moments of redirecting my journey.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We attribute so much of our growth and success as performing artists (and as people) to the village of teachers, peers, family members, coaches and mentors who guided & supported us along our path. We’re each a walking history, and so much of our vision is fueled by our personal failures, and the thirst and aching in our performing arts industry (as well as ourselves) for this type of community-forward healing.

Website: www.artistsbecoming.com

Instagram: @artistsbecoming

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