I am a mime enthusiast. I am technically a mime, but I’m not so great anymore — I don't practice as much as I should. I worked closely with my mime coach, to create a curriculum for mime technique specifically geared towards dancers. I have a fascination with acting, and that comes from a love of story and character and the belief that, to be a truly transcendental dancer, you have to be a great actor. Outside of the arts, I started a podcast this year, so I am becoming interested in that form of journalism, even if it is occasionally autobiographical. I have been interviewing people. I have been writing my episodes, spending time with words instead of moves, so that is a shift for me.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?
All of my work, whether teaching, performing, or creating, which I usually do with someone else, involves people in close proximity. Whether being in front of a big audience with people, or working as a teacher on the convention circuit in a ballroom full of 300 kids, every single way I make money and work involves being in close contact with people. Everything has changed.
When it started to get worse, my thought was this big GASP, like this will be a plunge and maybe hurt. And then I really jumped straight to getting solutions. My husband was a huge help in making us prepared with food, medicine, and cleaning supplies stock, and I immediately made ways I could still be helpful, useful, and still work. I reached out to studios about continuing training on video, then cranked that stuff out. Also, a small part of me has been enjoying the idea of shutting in for a little while and focusing on my podcast and work that I haven't given the attention it deserved. I’m quick to fill my social calendar and now that it is wide open, I’m excited about the new time I have. I’m also very concerned about the bigger effects this will have on the industry, not just the immediate ones.
Daphne Lee (Rahway, NJ) a member of the Dance Theatre of Harlem began her dance training at the Rahway Dance Theatre under the direction of Ms. Jay Skeete-Lee. She graduated with Honors from the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A program in dance and is a recipient of the Denise Jefferson Scholarship award. Ms. Lee received scholarships to Jacobs Pillow, School of American Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem and is a regional gold medal recipient in dance for the NAACP ACT-SO competition. Ms. Lee was also featured in the opening video for the Mrs. Carter World Tour for Beyonce and was featured in a short film, “Life of An Actress” by director Paul Chau. Daphne performed works by Robert Battle, Benoit Swan- Pouffer, Amy Hall-Gardner and Alonzo King among others and was assistant choreographer to the musical “The Color Purple”. She has danced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was a cast member in the sixth season of Dance212′s online reality series. She has even graced the pages of Dance Magazine and was featured cover for the April Edition of Dance Mogul Magazine. The NAACP National Act-so competition invited her to be a judge in 2015. Daphne got a chance to perform with the Black Iris Project at the Kennedy Center, playing the role of "Winnie Mandela" in the ballet MADIBA. Lee has done community work through out the country via masterclasses and career readiness talks to the youth. Lee has assisted in raising over $5,000 in scholarship money in partnership with Brown Girls Do Ballet and over $100K for Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation at the Laugh for Life event. As the reigning Miss Black USA, she will continue her mission to inspire the youth through art. She was a member of Ailey II, Lustig Dance Theatre, Zest Collective, Oakland Ballet Company, and dance artist for UK artist Sydney Jo Jackson, and Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, TN. She is also a graduate student at Hollins University getting her MFA in Dance.