I studied ballet professionally at schools such as The Rock School of the PA Ballet, The School of American Ballet, and The Miami City Ballet School until the age of seventeen. After being diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of thirteen and having to spend a year recovering from the illness, my body had changed. When I returned to ballet, I started sustaining many injuries, too many injuries to continue considering becoming a professional ballet dancer a viable career. So, with a heavy heart, I quit, and started the next chapter in my life.
Six years later, as a doctoral student in the History Department at UNC Chapel Hill, I realized that I wanted, nay, needed to return to dance. I loved history. I majored in it at Drew University, wrote my Thesis about Free African Americans in the Antebellum North and their appropriations of the Declaration of Independence, and was currently working on my Master’s Thesis concerning the narrative of slavery being told at Historic Stagville in Durham, NC. But all the while I had continued taking dance classes, making work, and performing. In undergrad I studied with Cheryl Clark and found movement vocabulary that was easier on my body, as well as ways of storytelling through choreographing with that vocabulary that fulfilled a desire I never knew I had. In grad school I studied under Marion Hopkins and danced with Modern Extensions, somehow continuing to convince myself that I no longer could consider dance a viable career. Then one day, it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. Quarter-life crisis a few years early? Perhaps. But I just knew. I knew I should be dancing. I knew it wasn’t going to be classical ballet anymore, and I knew it would be on a different trajectory than I had been on before, but I also knew that is where I needed to re-direct my energies. But the problem was, I still didn’t know very much about the dance world outside of ballet. Since I clearly loved school, the next step was obvious: time to get an M.F.A. in Dance.