Dance Is My Oxygen, Issue 1 – Why I Left Ailey

October 3, 2013

I remember the day I told Ms. Judith Jamison that I would be leaving the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. It was preceded by the hardest, most sleepless week of my life. I struggled with the thought of walking away from something I had worked so hard for. I told myself that I had so much more dance in me; that I would be crazy to leave. I also told myself that I would not stay longer than my spirit needed to. I had so many things still on my life’s goals list and I felt like I was running out of time.

I realized: I was full and didn’t want to stay past that feeling of fullness. Otherwise, I                                                                             ran the risk of making something that meant so much to me turn into something bitter.

Years before joining their ranks, I had chosen Ailey; written it down in my personal development plan for life and worked hard to get there. It would have been easy to stay, but I knew I had accomplished that goal and needed to continue on my path, continue on this remarkable journey I was destined to live. I was so full from the experience and felt like it was my time to move aside so others could drink from the fountain of the Ailey experience. It was the only company I ever wanted to dance with. Ailey’s choreography spoke directly to the core of my being and helped me to communicate my truth to a higher power. I found myself there and learned what my limitations were. I also learned how much more I needed to learn about life and my purpose.

Many people did not understand my path. They thought that Ailey would be my apex. I knew differently, though. I had already spoken and prayed my life into the universe way before Ailey came along. I knew, going into Ailey, that my last day would be sooner rather than later. It was a stop – albeit an important one – but a stop none-the-less on my life trajectory. While I was there, Ailey was everything to me. That is why I was able to depart with a full and glorious heart, head and experience. Satisfied with my work and the lessons I learned during my tenure, I gracefully took my last bow. It was heavy on my heart.

I remember after leaving, things were difficult and rejection in other areas began taking a toll on my self-esteem and faith. I was still on my path, but that path required this rough patch. I prayed and I talked myself out of that place by reciting “if not this, something better.” I would repeat it constantly, as I was applying for all sorts of “in-the-meantime” jobs and receiving about five rejections a day. My photo was on the side of a bus and yet I could not land a job. What that rejection taught me was that you are only as good as your last performance. Each day I needed to prove myself, which became a test in how well I could recover from the self-doubt. I was finally okay. Then I received the call.

The call was from Ms. Oprah Winfrey, inviting me to South Africa to teach dance to her students at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. I instantly made the connection – this was my “something better.” And, ironically enough, when I first heard about this school, I had entered it into my personal development plan. Going to South Africa was part of my journey before I even knew it. I spoke, willed and worked my something better into fruition.

And so I picked up and moved to South Africa. My experience there is a blog on its own – maybe; one day – but I leave you with this: Choose the life you want, live fully the life you choose, be open to what the universe wants to gift you and know that what you pray for, which is in line with your purpose, is only a fraction of what your creator wants to give you.

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