Are our steps Ordered?
Recently I finished reviving an older work I set for Ailey 2 back in 2001. This time around the Seniors in the B.F.A. program will bring it to life. Rehearsals have been really exciting and challenging for us all in many good ways. No matter where i go it’s always a challenge to push the students and professionals to let go of thinking solely about their technique and more about what their hearts feel and to focus on the theatrical and artistic side to dance. I believe without theatricality and genuine storytelling through narrative or simply music…there is no dance. It was so rewarding to watch these young dancers step up to the plate and start to explore performing from their hearts without fear of judgement by themselves or their peers. One day I stumbled into this really beautiful and regal picture of Mr. Ailey. I couldn’t help but think, what if he could talk to us through the picture the way the subjects of portraits in Harry Potter speak to the living? : ) lol. i know crazy….but i did think that. What would he say? Would he like what i was passing down to the next generation? Would he say keep doing what you do..or would he say get out!!? What would I say?
I am so grateful he made his dream a reality. I would love to pick his brain about choreographic isolation and loneliness. I would love to ask about success and failures. I would love to ask him about Love. I probably wouldn’t stop talking! The first company I ever saw was The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It was a school trip and we got to see a lecture demonstration of the original cast of Ulysses Dove’s EPISODES and Mr. Dove was there explaining the work to us! I then went on to see Night Creatures and Revelations and was never the same. My first commission by the Ailey organization was back in 1999 when I was still in college. Ms. Nasha Thomas -Scmhidt asked me to create a solo for a performance group she ran at the building on 61st street. Since then the relationship has garnered over 12 works for the organization. It’s pretty cool to be able to continue this relationship as each group steps forward. I do hope the dancers leave my creative process with something…and Mr. Ailey I hope you are inspired by what you see, and patting yourself on the back for what you’ve created for us all. I really do wish you could pop out that frame for just 2 hours!!!! Lol. So Grateful.
Most of my friends have moved from other places to live in nyc. When I am out with friends and i run into my family, teachers, old friends, it’s always really cool. Harlem is my birthplace, and even though sometimes it wears me out… I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Recently i woke up got on my bike and rode by some places that mean a lot to me. There really is no place like it. The Music /The dancing /The food/ The diversity/ The loud conversations/ The architecture/ The Hustling/ The Fabulousness/ The Ratchetness/ The truth/ The fighting/ but most importantly the LOve. There is so much love and support that many never seem to talk about. Even through rough times when I went back home, there was always people helping each other and supporting me every step of the way. I remember when people weren’t making end’s meet, sending over food to each other’s apt. I saw so much love and laughter amongst the chaos. The elders would call me over and say “I see you trying to do right…..Don’t you ever stop!” Harlem is one of those places that no matter where you go….when you return….The culture smacks you in the face and says “welcome home!!” : ) One of the best things for me about Harlem was that it’s located right on the island of ManHattan where pretty much everything artistic takes place in ny. It’s really crazy to watch it change..but it’s also amazing to see that some things at it’s core can never be changed. I love me some HARLEM.
My elementary school P.S. 144
From Pre-k to 2nd grade I also went to P.S. 185 where my reading teacher Ms. Joanie Davis (R.I.P.) discovered i could read two years above my grade level and pushed my mother to send me to Ps. 144 which was then a Computer School.
The BasketBall court at King Towers Projects (That’s the building i grew up in)
It’s been a long time since my last entry. (my web designer John keeps saying..”you have to write more blogs!!!) i agree with him. Well if you read the last blog I didn’t know if the opportunity would arise again…and it did!!!! I am so grateful to have been selected by Beyonce and her creative director Frank Gatson jr. to contribute some work to her current World Tour. It’s really special because Frank has set it up for many creative folk to get this amazing credit on their resumes. I got to work on the song Naughty Girl (photo above) and I also got to work on an intro duet before the song Freakum Dress. They actually built her entire set on a huge soundstage in brooklyn and we would go work on movement there and in the city. I must admit the first night she sat about 15 feet away singing through her entire show watching the lights…….. I will never forget. I have been blasting her music right from the emergence of Destiny’s Child!!! : ) Everyone wants to know what is she like? Extremely down to earth, gracious, and very appreciative of the different types of artists coming in to add to her show.
Back in July my assistants and I caught the show in Dallas Texas. What a night!! They got us amazing seats and when she recognized us from the stage ..she waved! This was my first venture in this world…and to see my sections with all those screaming heads….sent chills up my spine. When we got Backstage, it was really cool to see the dancers, who were very happy to see us. Once we got to Beyonce’s dressing room, she was so thankful and told us it made her feel good to see us out there. When I think about my life…. the ups and downs… I feel good. I hope to continue to do this and inspire many more artists. here’s to more hard work and DREAMS coming true.
It’s been a very busy and exciting time for me. I am sitting on Amtrak on my way back to the city with a three week stint at Home : ). I just finished a new work for 25 dancers at Goucher University in Maryland. I chose 25 to challenge myself…and see how I could get them all on one page artistically and technically. I haven’t titled it as of yet but it’s a pretty intense modern creation(With all the pointe work being created, it always excites me to see the barefoot!!) The dancers really stepped up to the plate and gave their hearts. The year started off with finishing a new work for Dance Theatre of Tennessee(Points of Interest), and creating a new work for Ballet Arkansas(Moultrie’s Spring). It’s taxing mentality to push out work but i love every minute of it. Freelancing is tricky, sometimes your’e so excited about work and then your’e frightened about not having anything to do. A lot of people tend to think your phone just rings off the hook 24 hours a day. There is tons of calling, emailing, rejection, and sharing of my work that keeps me in the loop. I always tell my younger choreographer peeps to stay in the hustle and keep doing great work at your highest representation of you. All you have is what you give out to the world. REJECTION is real and never going out of style, but at the same time ACCEPTANCE is just as real.
In other cool news, I got to meet Ms. Beyonce! Her creative director asked me to create for her Super Bowl performance and she loved it. I took some great dancers and we got to spend a day in the studio with her and her team as they put the performance together.(Huge thanks to dancers Ashley Everett and Anthony Burrell who got me in the room!) She loved the work, but the song ended up being cut from the set list and then added back at the last minute. Even though it wasn’t used it was a very important moment for me. At one point, I was in the house on the couch with the flu and a day later I was in the room with one of the biggest stars in America telling me she thought my work was beautiful. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve thought about getting a chance to share my creativity with her. As I get older, I am learning more and more that you really can’t sit at home and map out your future……..just keep doing the work. We really don’t know what the heck is coming around the corner next. I am accepting the simple fact that what’s meant for you…you will have (with Hard work!!) Will our paths cross again? ….we’ll see.
Next up …I will take some dancers to Portland Maine for a performance with The Longfellow Chorus in celebration of composer Samuel Coleridge -Taylor. I will keep ya posted…til next time be well and remain positive.
I am on my computer right now with my amazing web designer John Nguyen. We are working really hard on getting it all together. This is my first post! I hope to keep you up on the different things happening with me and around me. The good ,the bad, and the ugly!!!! much luv