Excerpt from "A Legacy of Dreamers"
Who I Am- A Dream Realized
I am the young lady who looked across the ocean in Senegal in 1998, the same water that my ancestors were forced to cross, and that my grandmother danced in front of in 1935. It is in Senegal, where I found my authentic voice as an artist and performer and deepened my understanding of dance and movement as vital in the lifeline of African people and people of African descent.
The music, rhythms, and dance of African people are the foundation of much of America’s contemporary popular culture (a fact that is not always acknowledged). This culture helped Africans in America maintain community and connection to one another- historically and presently. I, like my dancer/choreographer mother, have been privileged to travel the world, teaching, performing, and learning.
From my classes in African Dance, Hip Hop Theatre, and Mojah Dance, to working in the community, I draw upon my artistic inheritance for my work as an artist/educator.
Teaching and performing my mother’s original technique, Mojah, is a core part of my creative work. Mojah combines elements from other dance styles including modern, jazz, and West African. It is a dance technique, and much more. Mojah is a reclaiming of identity, culture, and spirit expressed in and through the body. It connects me to my heritage and a familial artistic legacy. In Hip Hop Theatre, students explore Hip Hop culture, their personal stories, and their own lived experiences. They learn to embrace their own voice to create and perform original pieces.
Through my work with Roots of Life Performing Arts Ensemble, a community-based arts-education program I co-founded, young students learn through engaging in lessons in West African dance, drumming, history, and literature. Through arts, young people have the opportunity to relate to each other and the world with a sense of curiosity, an appreciation for a plurality of perspectives, and respect for our common humanity. I believe that I have been called to do this work, and I am grateful to be able to continue a artistic legacy that precedes me.