A typical day during a very atypical time. For a social media project with the Dancing Wheels Company, I took over the company’s Instagram story to share snippets of how I continue to dance while in self-isolation.
I want to acknowledge that I know I have been so lucky to keep my job as a dancer, as I know so many artists around the world are struggling during this time. Every day I can wake up with this security, and I do not take it for granted. Dancing Wheels received a loan to keep dancers and staff like myself employed.
In my social media takeover, I shared not only how my jobs as a Company Dancer and Tour Manager have changed, but I also shared what I have been doing to keep happy and stay hopeful during these difficult times.
I have just returned from Beijing, China on my first international tour with The Dancing Wheels Company at the 2019 Luminous Festival!
The Luminous Festival is China’s first disability-led performing arts festival, and it was incredible to be a part of this historic festival and join in on this international discussion regarding inclusivity in the arts.
I am still amazed that I would have an opportunity like this a few months after graduating undergrad. I also have been given the opportunity through Dancing Wheels to choreograph a work based on my experiences on the trip and also taking influence from art being currently showcased at moCa Cleveland by Liu Wei. I am looking forward to creating a solo to be performed in December based on my trip at moCa Cleveland in “East Meets West…A Tale of Two Cities”. Thankfully when I was not dancing or in rehearsal, I was also able to play tourist on the trip and explore what Beijing had to offer. With the group, I saw the much loved pandas at the zoo, walked around the Forbidden City, visited shopping districts, admired some beautiful architecture, and wandered around a few gardens in the city. I wish I could have had another week to see more.
I am happy to announce that I am dancing with Dancing Wheels for their 2019/2020 season as an Apprentice in their company! I am looking forward to working with this amazing group, touring and performing around the globe, and being part of the mission to advocate for accessibility within dance.
The Dancing Wheels Company was founded in Cleveland in 1980 by Mary Verdi-Fletcher, whose vision was to offer people with disabilities full and equal access into the world of dance. Dancing Wheels became the first physically integrated dance company in the U.S. and is a company involving both dancers with and without disabilities. https://dancingwheels.org/
I recently presented my community research project on the University Circle Neighborhood in Cleveland, OH at the May Environmental Professionals Network event. For the past few months, I have been researching this community’s assets and power structure as part of my Asset Based Community Development Class. I focused on studying the arts and cultural programming in the area and how that community asset has led to neighborhood growth and development. I really loved the opportunity to combine my passions of arts and community development through this project and further validate why arts are so important to the growth and sustainability of a community.
On May 5, 2019, I graduated Summa Cum Laude from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and dual minors in Nonprofit Management and Society and Environmental Issues!
I am so grateful for these past 4 years of that have been full of learning, dancing, friendships, and memories; and I am so glad that I chose to spend these past 4 years as a Buckeye. After my first visit of OSU in 2015, I knew that this school was exactly where I wanted to be.
Now looking towards the future, I hope to continue dancing and also exploring my other passions of arts and the community. I will be taking this summer to solidify my path and make some decisions around dancing for the future. But in the meantime, I will be sticking in Columbus through May and continuing to dance with Hixon Dance. And in June, I will be headed to Chicago to work with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for their summer intensive program.
My senior research project, titled what the horizon looks like at 4:48 pm, was a choreographed solo that was presented during the Ohio State University (OSU) Dance Senior Concert. This piece served as an investigation into my self-identity, my relationship with the environment, and how both of those parts influenced my artistic voice. Finding a way to combine my studies in dance and environmental science is something that I have been seeking to explore since my first year attending OSU. I originally started as a dual major in both of those disciplines, and I have always disliked the fact that the fields felt so separate. Through this project, I sought to find the intersection of the two seemingly-separate fields by investigating how choreography can be used as a tool to express science-based concepts in a more personal or human way.
This semester has been filled with many performance opportunities, and here are some highlights from the past three months:
November: “Well of Pearls”, OSU Department of Dance Big 5-OH Motion Lab (MOLA) Performance
I had the honor to work with visiting guest artist André M. Zachery, artistic director of Renegade Artistic Group, on a new work for the OSU Dance Department’s Big 5-OH! It was such a wonderful experience to work in collaboration on this multimedia work and so great to work with the best cast in existence! I took a course last year that introduced me to multimedia performance techniques and the many possibilities that the Motion Lab offers, and it was great to see all the elements of dance + motion capture + graphics + sound + text + audience interactivity work together in this work. I loved that I was able to perform in a space where the audience was included in the performance. We performed this show 32 times, yet each show was unique because the audience and their energy gave weight to the outcome. What a great experience – I couldn’t have asked for anything better for one my last shows of senior year!
The process of composing this relational study was a stark contrast to that of the autobiographical study. This study was a dialogue between two – a duet with the subject being the relationship.
The appearance of two bodies in the space.
Relationship and response.
For this study, I worked with Jackie Bordjadze, who is shares many similarities with me in terms of movement quality, tendencies, and thought processes. Because of these similarities, I believe that the development of our thoughts naturally built off of prepositions that exhibited mimicry and similarity.
With, like, because of…
Our study was filled with commas and ellipses as much of our movement stemmed from one phrase. Each of us started with one phrase to which we inserted and superimposed more movement to create something more complex. Much of our work came from the reiteration of these phrases with changes in orientation, level, speed, etc.
I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and what I remember the most is the physical environment. It is a beautiful place encircled by mountains with blue skies and red rocks. Though I was young and Las Vegas mostly lives in my memory, I still remember the richness of the land. I feel that my love for nature and the environment grew from being surrounded by and living in such a beautiful physical environment. Growing up, I remember playing in the dirt in my grandmother’s backyard for hours and loved learning about the plants and wildlife native to the valley. Trips to the nature center or one of the many state park were very memorable events for me. My value of the environment came out of the physical space that I was in, and this value still shapes who I am today. My favorite places always seem to be related to nature. I see myself outside, surrounding by the sky and the surrounding environment. I believe that this place attachment forms a large part of my identity and gives reason to why my Autobiography study is centered around those memories.
For my Artistic and Creative Endeavor STEP Signature Project, I attended the 2018 International Associations of Blacks in Dance (IABD) Conference in Los Angeles, California. At this conference, I took various workshop classes with companies and artists I admire, I increased my technical skill and artistry by learning renowned artists, I forged connections with artists in the black dance community, and I researched and auditioned for companies that I am interested in dancing for.
One thing that I have always struggled with the complexity of my identity. As a biracial female, for much of my life I have wondered about my own blackness and my fit into the black dance community. Being able to attend a conference that celebrated an enforced my identity as a black artist was transformational. I felt encouraged to engage and share; create and absorb; and most importantly, to enjoy being black. This project has also given me insight to my future career as a performer. I was able to see options that I have – companies and artists that I would love to work with and who are looking to work with me. My view of myself and of my future has definitely transformed through my STEP Signature Project, and I feel inspired to see where dance takes me in the coming years. Continue reading Artistic and Creative Endeavor STEP Signature Project