I’m sitting in the Ohio Union right now in a spot I’ve sat in countless times in my time here. I just finished meeting with a friend and making plans for our Buckeye Leadership Fellows capstone project — a business, a unique brand with my name on it.
Three years ago, I never would have even imagined myself as being able to use my art form to change the world. I never thought about owning my own business or branding myself. My time at Ohio State has taught me so much. I was pushed so far outside of my comfort zone and that pressure was so necessary. I was a diamond hiding deep underground. I had no idea what I was capable of or what I could even do with dance. OSUdance and Buckeye Leadership Fellows have opened my eyes to the world beyond the ballet barre. There’s more to the dance field than just being a ballerina in American Ballet Theatre or a star in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
There’s so much theory and history behind what gets presented on the stage, and while I love to move and create and want to continue to do that with my life, there is so much more that I have to offer to this field. It took me coming to college to find myself – a Black woman – at the heart of American modern dance. I struggled to love myself, my body for so long until I learned that my ancestry sits in the heart of so much of American culture and performance.
I want to make sure that no more little black girls have to wait until they’re 19 to learn that truth. The research and work that I am doing now for my senior project within the Dept. of Dance seeks that goal. While I thank God for Horton technique and Alvin Ailey, knowing about Black women choreographers like Pearl Primus and Katherine Dunham would have proved life changing for me in high school.
Beyond that, I refuse to be a poor, starving dancer living in a shoe box in New York, broken and bowed because I’m not dancing with fill-in-the-blank company. I want to use dance to do something – to challenge the status quo, to change the way that blackness is portrayed of and on the performance stage, and to diversify the bodies that we put on stage as well. I want to have my own collaborative dance company as an avenue for that creativity.
But there’s more… I want to be an academic. I want to fill the gap in academic literature that deals with Black performance theory and the African/Africanist elements in Black American culture, American pop culture, and American performance. I told my friends today that I’ll be sending them copies of my first book within the next five years.
And about that brand that I mentioned at the beginning of this – that’s going to happen too.
There’s so much in my heart, and over the years of my education, I have learned that there is no need to limit myself. I can do, and be, whatever I want.
Now, as I sit at the cusp of making everything that I’ve talked about a reality, one piece of Scripture my mom has instilled in me my whole life resonates deeply in my spirit:
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Looking around me and recognizing where I am now and remembering where I have been is proof to how great the Lord’s plans for me are. I’m graduating with Distinction in May 2017, but I’m not afraid. I finally feel that I’m walking fully in my calling. His plans for my future are big and bright, and I trust Him to help me achieve them.
Love and Light,