Q: What has dance taught you that you have applied to your everyday life and how you engage in the world?
Dance has definitely taught me patience and overall open-mindedness to things I experience and people I meet. In dance, we are always experiencing new things and that is life itself, always experiencing new things. So, it has really taught me how to be patient and open with all the experiences that come into my life.
Q: Has dance helped you overcome any hardships in your life?
Absolutely. It has been a form of therapy for me from a very young age, even without me necessarily realizing it. It has always been an escape from the external, whether that be social or global. It has always been a place to release and to gain more happiness for me.
Q: What other interests and passions do you have outside of dance that influence and inspire your artistry?
Another passion that influences my dance work is fashion. I have been really invested in the fashion industry since I was young. My dance also is influenced by advocacy for my culture, my community and for African Americans. What I learn day to day about our experiences as a culture just really informs how I move and how I approach movement, how I dance. It is in my blood.
Q: How do you think dance can be used as a social justice platform?
Just as all art is. All art is a platform itself. The more we express what we advocate for and believe in and share that the better. Whether that be just in the studio or on stage or on the street. We are always sharing and intertwining our beliefs and our art forms. I feel like for dance it's so self explanatory. You feel something, you create something, you share that thing, and somehow, some way, people are affected by it.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?
I think it is clear that I am not able to learn and grow in the space I am so familiar with, which is the studio. To not be around other dancers is a big shift for all of us, dance is so communal and social. That aspect is very difficult and it has affected me because I am literally dancing in my room by myself. Trying to find the passion and motivation that I normally have instantly when I step inside a studio is hard in a secluded area. It is difficult but necessary for all of our growth. I am appreciative of it now but when it first happened my heart was broken and I was so frustrated, I cried for days. Not being able to be in the studio with people was like an identity crisis and I didn’t know what I was going to do. That was really hard, but it has definitely taught me so much as well.
Q: Can you talk about the Initial cancellations and how you felt?
It was interesting to see the different reactions. At first I was very self centered about the situation, as I feel like a lot of us were. I thought “what will I be able to do, I can’t do the things I want anymore, this will stop what I have going on.” And I had to take a moment and realize that people are actually dying, this affects all of us globally. My first reaction was selfish and then I had to use the open-mindedness I learned from dance to say “this is more important than me being in a studio, it is for a greater cause.” That’s what my reaction evolved to, but it definitely started with panic, panic that was self-centered.
Q: What has your school been doing to support students?
One thing I enjoy is our Dean and President send emails to us. They do FaceTime clips of them speaking and encouraging us, that is helpful for me, to hear from them and know that they care and that their advice is so helpful. Our teachers are doing an amazing job. Our dance teachers have really stepped up. Even teachers outside of Boston Conservatory and teachers on Instagram, everyone is stepping up. Everyone is really trying to help others and I am really appreciative of that. From the Zoom classes to the live streams of Gaga class on Instagram, it is amazing to see how people are using this time to help others and provide opportunities for others.
Q: How do your classes work now?
Some of our ballet classes are online. Some teachers record themselves doing somatic based exercises that we can then record ourselves doing and send back to them for feedback. One of my teachers had me make my own syllabus to fit my schedule best. Other teachers are having us watch performances and then write and talk about it. The teachers are very active in teaching us for sure.
Q: As a senior, what are your feelings about going into the industry that is closed and hurting?
Petrified. I didn't expect my senior year to come to a close this fast. I didn't have to expect to look for a job when there are none. We trained for this for so long but no one said when it would come, or that it would come like this. I am taking it and being open with it. Our field is hurting right now, but we have created so many beautiful things from the pain, confusion, and disappointment. As far as getting a job, I have to be patient. I understand if companies can’t hire because they don't have the funds. I know the U.S. government does not fund the performing arts like they fund sports. Just because I don't have a company spot, I know that doesn’t mean I am any less or more of a dancer. This pandemic is global and huge and important and I am not expecting to get a job right after this because we will have to heal after this is over as well. As a dance industry and world, I understand there will be time we need to take to heal.
Q: Can you talk about your daily routine now?
My daily routine now is waking up and taking some time to read a book I am working on or to catch up on class work. If I am in the mood to, I will take a somatic class whether that is yoga or ballet with my teachers on live stream. Honestly, I am really basing what I do day to day on how I feel. I think that is put to the side when you're at an institution that gives you a very strict schedule to follow day to day, where you don't have a choice to not follow the schedule. Now the universe has told us this is the time to listen to your body and how you feel day to day. So I am going with that. So if that means I am reading all day and not doing any movement, then that's what I do. If it means I feel like doing a ballet class and then a Gaga class, then I will do that. I have been taking it day by day and that is my routine.
Q: Using the idea of “worldmaking” how do you imagine the performing arts world after the pandemic? (Worldmaking: How you can re-imagine the world in your own terms, the way you want it to be. Using this tool one can construct new worlds and write themselves into narratives that have excluded them and systems that have disabled them.)
I see a lot of work being produced. I see so much creativity being showcased. I see an evolution in the performance world for sure. A new level of creativity will arise from this. Every artist is in isolation and there is bound to be a new something to come out of this. I don’t know what it will be, but I just see growth for sure, an evolution. It is almost like how Gaga came, maybe Gaga wasn't as new for people in Europe, but it has transformed American dance. Maybe something similar to that. I think our creativity will impact the industry for sure and keep evolving.
Q: What is one thing you would like to see change in the dance industry?
I would like to see more diversity and not the “on the surface diversity” when you have one hispanic and one black person in every company. We need multicultural advances in the dance world. If we want art to prosper, we cannot be selfish with who we allow to access art. We need to shift how we perceive the dance body, especially in companies. I understand companies are not funded by the government and that makes it more expensive for people and dancers, but I think accessibility is the main thing. If art is about sharing it with the world, then we need to share it with truly the whole world, not just the wealthy and white. I want to see true inclusiveness.