1. How old were you in this picture?I believe I was twelve.
2. What made you want to audition to be a part of Joffrey's Nutcracker Children's Cast?Honestly, I was completely ignorant to the Joffrey and to the Nutcracker Ballet. I just enjoyed dancing, so when Ms. Bolton-Howard (my dance teacher at Beasley Academic Center) informed me about the audition, I figured it was just another place where I could do what I really enjoyed.
3. How did participating with the Nutcracker Children's Cast influence or shape your dance career?More than anything that experience was a culture shock. I believe in my scene (the party scene) there were only four African Americans, out of the 30+ performers that where in my scene. I quickly learned that regardless of skin color we all had something in common, the love of dance. That lesson has allowed to me to understand people and their actions on a higher level. I learned to appreciate differences being around a diverse group of people. This way of processing ideas has allowed me to become a critical thinker and a more mature artist.
4. You mentioned that you also participated in Gallery 37. Was this also with Joffrey instructors?No, my instructors came from different studios. However, going to Gallery 37 created an opportunity for me to receive a scholarship to the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (CMDC), where Homer Bryant is the director.
5. Give us a little bit of information about you (dance experience, schooling, etc.)I started dancing at New Covenant Missionary Church. I enjoyed dance so much there, I pursued dancing at my grade school, Beasley. Beasley opened up the door to Joffrey's Nutracker, which allowed me to receive training from CMDC and Hyde Park School of Ballet. I also attended Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive in New York which resulted in acquiring my Bachelors of Arts & Dance from Western Michigan University. Currently I dance at New Life Covenant Church, free-lance for special occasions, and take classes at several dance studios in the Chicagoland area.
6. What made you want to become a part of Joffrey's Community Engagement Programs?Now that I am older I feel it is my responsibility to encourage youth in the urban landscape to be confident in themselves. It is my duty to cultivate the next generation of professional dancers and equip them with the tools to excel in which ever field their hearts desire. When I was in grade school, boy dancers were not cool, especially in my urbanized community. As much as I enjoyed dancing and loved ballet, I did not want to be ridiculed for it. I often times masked my ballet technique because I wanted to fit in. This hindered my growth as dancer as I did not want to stand out, consequently avoiding all opportunities that would garner recognition. I grew out of that and went on to have some truly amazing experiences. Although I feel blessed to be where I am today, I can't help but imagine if I would have birthed a more successful dance career, or even made it into a dance company, if I were more confident in the gift I was blessed with at a younger age.