To me, dancing is an opportunity to exist in an alternate reality. With my imagination moving galaxies per minute, there's no telling what I will do, when or how—and that's my escape from this world.
It's common for my mind to drift off and borrow ideas from a character in a Disney movie while performing with Wynton Marsalis, or to be thinking about how algorithms work while performing with Mariah Carey on "Good Morning America."
I started performing at age 3. My mother was my first teacher and I was quite the handful. She gave me private lessons at our house and then I would join the rest of the kids at the Sunshine Dance Co. in Queens. But the information I received in classes was no match for my imagination.
No matter how difficult it was, the material was often too simple, so I would take what I learned and apply it to all the things that a 3-year-old wonders about. If you can imagine a boy doing choreography while simultaneously bouncing a red ball to see how much movement he could get out before it hit the ceiling and fell back to the floor, that was me.
Photo by Matthew Murphy for Dance Teacher
If you can imagine a young boy tap dancing in the way he thinks some dinosaurs would have, that was me. If you can imagine a young boy doing choreography to the different patterns of star constellations, that was me.
Doctors said this kind of behavior was called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. That was a buzzkill. My parents declined medications and provided probably the best remedy ever—good parenting. They dealt me a steady diet of everything under the sun: dance classes, drum lessons, choir practice, science club, karate, baseball practice, basketball practice. I didn't stop.
The idea was that if I had all this energy, then my parents were going to use it up while simultaneously feeding the versatility of my imagination. It worked. I went from the kid everyone picked on to the kid who knew how to do everything. It made my confidence in dance defiantly unstoppable.
That drive to conquer things both in and outside of dance is one of my favorite things. It provides the many colors for what I do and keeps my ideas fresh. Dance is my escape from this world to one where there are no rules, no disorders, no judgments and no explanations.