Today is when the hard rock hits, the reality of my distant relationship to dance settles in. After sitting in on rewarding and historian talk entitled "HERStory: about the legacy of the Ballet world's FIRST throughout the 20th century in the U.S. There prominent women of color in Ballet, share their stories of joy, of love and passion for dance overcoming obstacles such as passive racism, colorism, prejudice and adolescent ignorance from amongst peers, the feeling of isolation being a part from their loved ones and the triumphant as being Ballet's "First Black _________" in many respects.
Lydia Abarca-Mitchell shared with us her attitude of preparedness, poise and position as one of ABT's first Black Ballet Students and Company Mistress and Teacher with Philadanco! Dance Company and School for years. She makes it clear her role as a teacher when she enters a room to command the space and does not take the poor attitudes of others personally.
Delores Browne, Artistic Director of Ballethnic in Atlanta Georgia on the other hand struggles to talk about herself, she has accomplished much in both the dance and commercial world, she shares with us snippets of her fabulous stage performances, cover stories, photo shoots and moments from the beloved Arthur Mitchell.
Aesha Ash is second to speak and is humbled by her place amongst these trailblazers but her record, commitment throughout her career and work in the community through the Black Swan Project speaks for itself. She talks about harsh moments in the her life where she had to will her way and in seemingly devastating moments where she felt life the weight of life happening to her and leading her in a direction that was far from the stage.
I reflect on my own life and personal abilities. It's cold here in Dayton. And I do mean cold. The windchill alone is enough to make the bones quiver, it had me running for the shuttle bus to the Metropolitan Arts Center for my first ballet class in.......months. My class with a dancer whose image drew me in with certainty to the world of Contemporary Ballet- a photo of a Brown Ballerina in a Colored and Coiled Orange tutu wrung pants w/sun kissed slender legs in a pointe shoe. Aesha Ash. I felt that Aesha's soft, yet firm tone, keen eye and wisdom would be just what I needed to rediscover that love again, find my center and activate the Artistry and learn from this experience. Indeed she is a great teacher just as much as she is a dancer, it was an emotional experience for me.
It was emotional for many reasons.
As positive, prayerful as I am. The pain and misalignment in my body mainly in the back and neck area tugs at me as I go to pirouette and/or let myself go in the movement. It was inspiring to see the younger generation of beautiful black well-trained ballerinas twirling and preparing their hearts to audition in the coming days. I myself, will not be in the audition room for the first time.
I came to the conclusion that I do not possess the capacity to take on the demand and rigor of an Audition at this time. I fantasize about returning to the performance world and being in a creative process full time but feel that I am not ready as my cognitive skills have significantly changed, my recall and short term memory has been effected by the pressure in my head and the side of neck, my sense and reception is skills have slowed down.....unless I fight. Which I'm growing weary of. And truthfully, I find myself headed in a different direction from the performance realm and I'm at peace with that.
Thank GOD for Hope.
A Washington DC Native Dancer
Alvin Ailey for American Dance Theater Company Member
Mentor, Dance Educator, Choreographer....among many things.
Hope Boykin coaching Dallas Black Dance Theater Company Dancer, Lailah Duke on a piece she is due to perform in February
She saw and understood my carriage and stance in the body--recognizing right away the strange restrictions. She spent some time analyzing various positions of the head and neck, the distance between my chest/shoulders and toes and reminded me to take ownership of my journey as a dancer and as a mover. It's a timely thing I suppose because Hope is also in a process of healing and recovery. She's been documenting her journey and sharing it through social media--reflections, moments of vulnerability, photos, moments of triumphant and taking in the support from a family and loved ones.
Hope Boykin + I
I felt supported. Cared for and understood. Receiving encouraging words from a Great Dancer--and a High Spirited person lifted me from a place of defeat and isolation. The strength that exhibits simply from being Hope, her essence--a Child of Light and her experience having danced with the most prominent and historical Modern dance company in the world speaks for itself. And I am happy. I am grateful for her sharing that knowledge and insight with me. I understand all that this conference is meant to be--a reunion that serves all the needs of a dancer, where ever they may be in their journey.