Q: What has been your professional dance journey?
I started dancing very young as most people usually do. I started with creative movement at 5 years old. In middle school I started dancing with Lisa Johnson-Willingham who danced with the Alvin Ailey Company. Then I danced with Homer Bryant who is the creative director/founder of the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center. He was a former dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem. I danced with him all throughout middle school and high school. I got some great opportunities through him and then in my junior year of high school I went to the Alonzo King LINES Ballet summer program and fell in love. So then I applied for the college BFA program there and got in. Over the past 4 years I met a lot of amazing people, got to work with a lot of amazing artists. We got to do workshops with Alonzo King himself. For the past 4 years I really dove into what it means to be an artist and tried to figure out what kind of artist I want to be. I graduated in May of 2019 and since then I have been freelancing and working full time at a spa. I am currently applying for grad school. I want to get my masters in Kinesiology. Also at LINES we got certified in gyrokinesis. That has helped me with my professional journey in terms of keeping my body healthy.
Q: What have been some challenges in your pre-professional or professional dance career?
At the moment it has been staying consistent with my training since after college. Just because you are rehearsing doesn't mean you are keeping up with your technique training. It is hard to fit in classes so sometimes for me it’s just waking up and doing a quick floor barre. You have to make sure you keep in touch with your technique otherwise it all just kind of goes downhill.
The biggest transition from pre-professional to professional would probably be making my own schedule. You don't have a set day to follow, you have to create your own schedule and stick to it and have a planner and remember things on your own. It is not laid out for you already. That has been kind of difficult.
Q: Do you believe dance can be a platform for social justice topics? If so, how? and/or Have you used your art form to make a difference?
For sure. Dance can be a platform for every single issue in the world. Dance and art are just so expressive. You can scream without making a sound. In my dance history class in college I did a video project with a political platform using dance. Even small things you can do like a flash mob, they all can have some type of political meaning behind it. It doesn't even have to be in your face, it can be abstract. There is room for people to create their own narratives. With performance art, it is up to people to interpret the art on the stage. Everyone will interpret it differently and you cannot force anyone to see it in a certain way. All you can do is give what you have to offer and people will take it as they will. With dance, you offer something in its entirety because all senses are involved.
Q: What inspires you and drives you forward as an artist and a person?
I lost my father a month and a half ago and have been dealing with grief, loss and a lot of emotions. Especially in the last couple weeks in quarantine, that has been something that has motivated me to keep creating art. Movement is a form of therapy and emotional release. So at this moment in my life, that is what is taking me forward.
Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?
I had a project scheduled to perform at the end of April, beginning of May, and that was cancelled. We have been having meetings trying to figure out the next steps if we want to just push it back or if we have to cancel it, how we deal with losing dancers, and having it not be the same project. We have decided to do a dance video instead so that is evolving. Just trying to find different ways to stay connected through dance during this time. There are so many companies and people doing the Zoom dance classes and keeping children involved and active as well. Also moving on my own. Something I have been experimenting with is moving on my own but trying to imagine people around me, giving myself different prompts to imagine how I can feel the presence of people in their absence.
Q: How do you think we can continue to create and share art during this time?
Art is such a blanket term because literally anything can be considered art. Like on Tik Tok, I have seen people have these amazing talents and they are sharing it through social media. I think social media and the internet is going to be one of the main ways we keep spreading art at this time when we can't physically be with each other. Finding new ways to share this art. How you use video, how you present it to the world, and what you are trying to say through it can be something so powerful.
Q: What social changes and responsibilities have you seen people making during the pandemic?
In reality I’ve seen some people make changes but I’ve also seen other people disregard what needs to be happening as far as social distancing. The people that are taking the necessary precautions have really stepped up by spreading that awareness. Also I have seen so many people offering online dance classes which have been very responsible and gracious of them. Not just dance, but I have also seen online concerts and I see people continuing to share on social media, staying involved with others, and lifting up people’s spirits. That has been a beautiful thing to witness. It is amazing to see people with no income coming in, offering these free services. It is selfless and makes people feel like they are part of something. In a way, we are really all in this together.
Q: Do you think the pandemic will make us a more socially conscious society? If so, how?
I hope so. I think before this pandemic even happened we were very socially aware in the arts community just by trying to be on top of activism. I think the arts community was really big on these topics and hopefully after this settles down people will realize we are stronger together. Hopefully in this isolation people will use this time to educate themselves on all of the matters that they are ignorant of in regards to art, society, love, health, everything.