Voted Santa Barbara Local Hero – Meet Josette

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JOURNEY OF A SOUL

Every Day nearly 200 people line up outside the Historic Santa Barbara Carrillo Ballroom for the Experience of Josette’s signature Zumba Fitness Class.

HERE to Dance:   Born in New York, Josette is a first generation American. Her father is from the Netherlands and her mother from the Island of Haiti.  Josette is the grand-daughter of the first Haitian Ambassador to the US.  Josette’s strong Haitian roots in music and dance served her throughout her life.  Josette began dancing seemingly before she could walk. She began performing at age 3 and found a love of dance, movement, and expression throughout her life. Josette studied classical ballet with several notable companies, including Joffrey Ballet in New York and The Metropolitan Ballet of St. Louis, in St. Louis, MO, where she was a company Dancer. Josette attended Juilliard New York, Alvin Ailey, as well as ABT (American Ballet Theatre.) As a student of the Talent Unlimited Performing Arts School in New York Josette studied Jazz, Tap, Modern, and various forms of Dance techniques. She continued dancing into her college years and was honored to serve as a board member for the Santa Barbara Dance Alliance. Over the span of 2 decades, Josette has taught more than 500 Ballet and technique classes and has attended hundreds of master classes including several held with Mikhail Barishnikov. Josette is a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) member and has worked on film and stage with the guidance of her mentor and friend, Oscar Winner Maximilian Schell.

Zumba Fitness – the perfect destiny…2015_05_09_JT_Live_your_passion_4years_011

In 2010, at the suggestion of a friend while living in South Florida, Josette attended her first Zumba class. “I remember laughing and being exhausted at the same time. But there was something more….this was a RELEASE! This is MAGIC!!” Hooked, Josette attended every Zumba class she could find. South Florida is the international Zumba mecca, where classes are constant and buzzing with the influence and energy of the many Masters whom live there. With the mentorship and support of these amazing instructors, hundreds of classes under her belt, Josette infused her experiences of Dance training, travel, love and passion of life in her class as a licensed Zumba Instructor.

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Josette began teaching amongst these experts in South Florida and quickly gained notoriety for her unique style of engaging students.

Disability and Disease – the Darkness

In January 2011, Josette was suddenly struck with Advanced Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that was rapidly destroying her joints.  Josette was using a walker to move around, but was virtually completely immobile.  Unlike most people, Josette refused to accept that the cause was unknown, and that the diagnosis of a severe progressive disabling disease had no cure.

“I was not going to spend the rest of my life wondering if all those doctors were wrong.  Deep in my soul, I knew I could find a way out.”   Josette She made the decision to not take the extensive list of pharmaceuticals prescribed to her.  Her doctors told her that her prognosis was grim, even with the meds.  They sentenced her to a life of disability and told her to forget dancing.

“I was not going to look at my son and tell him that I would never run or play or hold him.”  “Indeed it was the darkest and most pivotal moment of my life.”  I had lost my identity, I could no longer dance, move, hold my son, or even smile.”  “The shift that happened to me changed everything.  I dug deeper to find who I really was….and everything, everything changed.”  “I truly found the light, but it was not outside of me, it was deep inside, and once I understood who we really are, I knew I could truly begin to live.”

It was during that time, that Josette received a call from The City of Santa Barbara and was asked to create and direct a Zumba program for the City Parks and Recreation.  Sight unseen, and relying on her extensive background and connections, the City gladly brought Josette on, not knowing she could hardly move.  “I taught my first class only able to stand in one spot, with 3 students, but I knew the joy Zumba Fitness gives, and it was with that, and the passion to move again that I began.  I had nothing, was selling everything I had to make rent.”

Going… GOING …..GONE!

Within one year of going completely raw vegan, changing stress factors and LIVING the Zumba lifestyle of joy, non-judgement and bliss, Josette was able to put her disease in complete remission without a single drug.  Doctors still are unable to explain how she was able to do it.

Also within a year, Josette was attracting cult like status in Santa Barbara, and her classes filled to capacity in the historic Carrillo Ballroom.  She now averages 150-300 people every day of the week at each class.  An unprecedented number, as Josette passionately shares the joy and bliss that brought her out of darkness.  Josette believes that Zumba Fitness was catalyst in her healing.

Sought-After presenter and Motivator

In less than 3 years, Josette created what is nationally known as one of the largest daily attended Zumba Fitness classes in the world.  Since 2013 Josette has traveled the planet speaking to thousands motivating and inspiring them to new levels of their Carreer.  Josette has spoken as a presenter for Zumba Fitness at the 2013 Zumba Instructor Convention, in front of nearly 10,000 Zumba Instructors and at the Los Angeles Conference at the Staples Center both in 2014 and 2015.  She was recognized by Zumba as an inspirational leader.

Josette is currently working with Zumba Fitness to create an online tutorial program that incorporates her heart-based business strategies and creative energy specifically geared towards Zumba Fitness Instructors.

A Community Power-House

Josette is a tireless and passionate advocate in the community of Santa Barbara using her enormous global reach to tip the scales of good-will.  She supports many local charities and hosts many events.  Some well-known events include the annual Zumba for SBDI (Santa Barbara Dance Institute) which is a non-profit working to bring dance education to the community’s public schools.  She also works with Santa Barbara Dance Works, and has raised thousands of dollars doing charity Zumba Events for the American Heart Association, the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara and the United Way.  Josette is widely influential by herself, and creates an impact with the large number of Community members who gather with her daily to share joy, love and health.

 

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