When I looked into the faces of the young women who walked through the doors to audition a few weeks back, I was reminded of what I owed my creator, my ancestors, my mother, my elders, and my teachers for the life I am living. I’m renewed each time I encounter a young person, eager for the adventure of learning and exploration of movement; ready to grasp the power they possess.
I remember like it was yesterday, my audition for the Ailey summer program. I waited, holding my breath as the fate of my life – I thought at the time – lied in the hands of then Director, Denise Jefferson, who has now moved on to be with the angels. She said my name and I knew it was going to be the start of something awesome. I was awarded a full scholarship and ran home to share the good news with my anxious mother, knowing that if I didn’t get a scholarship, fees would be expensive. Quality cost and I knew that in order to be good, I had to train where the good people trained.
That first audition led me into a door of multiple accomplishments. Today I’m asked over and over, “Why did you come back? Why are you doing a free workshop? Why are you opening a performing arts center? What was here for you?” I answer by saying I was brought back. I was pulled back and willed back to Bed-stuy because of my duty to repay what I received. My life has been – and is more than – extraordinary. When I find the words to write about it all, I will share. Until then I will use what I know to pay what I owe: a life for my life. I’m ready to raise a dancer, build a dancer, guide a dancer and teach them to be everything they want to be. I will guide them in the direction of whatever their creator destined for them.