It is hard to ignore the environment that the world has come to. As an artist, it is trying on my soul, because my soul yearns for new and inviting ideas to keep me creating. I am constantly moving because I am ready to work and construct the next story to tell. But this time of social distancing has given me the chance to sit, listen, and be patient. This pause has given me the time to learn who I am as an artist and what I need to be the greatest I can be. As a first-year JB fellow in a prestigious modern black dance company, my individual voice is important. Dayton Contemporary Dance Company bleeds the individual voices of its company members and that contributes to the overall mission of the company and our work within the African-American experience.
In these times, I can’t escape the thought that the world feels like it’s ending. That idea is knocking at the front door of my consciousness. In this time, I have learned to give myself the freedom to exist, unapologetically. How do I survive as an artist? When anxiety is at its highest, I dance in the tight spaces of my bedroom. When I am full of artistic passion, I create choreography to songs that are unpredictable. I listen to diverse music to strike new ideas, and then explain them in length to anyone who will listen. I record myself dancing and then post the videos on social media without the constructive critique of my training. I recite, read, and sing the serenity prayer multiple times throughout the day just to give myself spiritual peace. I talk to myself about how I feel.
But while I move in the small apartment that I call home, I also sit still and self-reflect. In our busy world, self-reflection is often long overdue. I have thought about the negative thoughts that affect my viewpoint as an artist and I meditate on the times when I have been unaccepting of my gift, and I am working on ways to use everything that I have been given and everything that I’m feeling. This time in quarantine, unwanted or not, has allowed me the time to see what I need. In my opinion, it has been the best self-care so far. As an artist, I am using other creative outlets like writing and learning new crafts like string art. Those things have brought me back to myself and given me some clarity about my artistic goals. This clarity has given my soul the chance to saaaaaaang. I now have the language to communicate what my movement has always been trying to say to me...to others. Like I said before, the black voice is ever so powerful, and I am learning more about my voice in this moment. Finding my voice allows me to stand with the many voices of the company which helps push the beauty of Black life forward. I constantly remind myself that “I am because we are, and because we are, therefore I am.”