Growing up, I was an artist, always drawing. It was my escape into a world full of color and light, using my brain in a creative way no matter where I was. But I always looked up to performers like Tina Turner, Madonna and Michael Jackson, and I loved playing around with cousins and performing. I remember my aunt once catching us pretending we were in a band (I was one of the leads, of course).
One day in middle school, in my homeroom class (which was in the dance studio, weirdly enough), I was dancing and the instructor asked if I would come by later and try out some movements. She invited me into the school's magnet performing arts program. From that point on, I was hooked!
In my freshman year of college at New World School of the Arts, my Graham teacher, Peter London, showed the class a video with three ballets: Errand into the Maze, Night Journey and Diversion of Angels. I fell in love with the physicality, beautiful costumes and sets, and drama.
I continue to love Graham's choreography because it speaks to me in a way no other dance form has, portraying real human emotions in a very smart technique. I still pinch myself when I think of all the opportunities I've had, and biggest of all being made a principal at the Martha Graham Dance Company.
Dance has always been an outlet for me. When I'm frustrated, I know that by taking a class or just dancing by myself in a studio, I can release energy and be a little more at peace. I believe dancers are the strongest people, and for some reason so undervalued, but we continue to prove time and time again that when we put our mind to something, we can do anything.
I had a whole year where I was sidelined with a herniated disc. It was awful to know I couldn't go to class or rehearsal and experience something I loved beyond words. But I always believed in my body and worked to give it the tools it was missing, and eventually came back stronger.
Dance is humbling in the way that it always brings you down to earth with what you can do, cannot do and have the potential to do. Nothing for me is better than knowing that I can escape into a realm, and take someone watching to somewhere else.
So many times after dancing, I've gone offstage shocked, because I was on a high that could never really be taught. But I would always remember it as an explanation of why I dance.