PC Richard Calmes, Courtesy AAADT

Spotlight: What Ailey's Hope Boykin Says to People Who Don't Think Dance Is A "Real Job"

It may be her eighteenth season with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, but Hope Boykin is showing no signs of slowing down. Not only is she one of the company's most striking performers, but she's proven that she's a choreographer with something to say. The company will dance her powerful 2016 work, r-Evolution, Dream. again during its New York City Center season, which begins tomorrow.

We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:


What do you think is the most common misconception about dancers?

That we don't have real jobs. I wouldn't trade a moment of my career, as each experience has groomed me for the next, but is this a real job? Oh yes, it most certainly is.

What other career would you like to try?

I've been standing behind the camera lately as a director and choreographer, and loving every new experience it brings.

What was the last dance performance you saw?

The Ailey/Fordham BFA senior showcase of works by future choreographers. These young artists are on the way to saving the world.

What's the most-played song on your phone?

"Wait For It," sung by my friend Leslie Odom Jr. on the Hamilton soundtrack. [Ed note: He narrates Boykin's r-Evolution, Dream.]

Do you have a pre-performance ritual?

The most important one is my prayer. I simply ask that the audience will see the most honest artist in me. Despite the frustrations, feelings, aches and pains I may be experiencing, I long for the best performance to resonate in the hearts of those watching.

Where can you be found two hours after a performance ends?

Snuggling up with my pillow after a long bath. I am a morning person, and my favorite meal is breakfast. There's nothing better than a good night's rest, so that I may start the day with the sun.

What's your favorite book?

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

Where did you last vacation?

My annual trip to Miami. I simply love the early morning walks on an almost empty beach and taking my journals to write as the tide comes in and out.

What app do you spend the most time on?

Candy Crush Soda Saga. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I know I'm not alone.

Who is the person you most want to dance with—living or dead?

I can imagine dancing in Mr. Ailey's classic work Night Creature with one of my best friends, Matthew Rushing. And I'd love a simple dance floor jig with Michael Jackson.

What's the worst advice you've ever received?

I will never forget being told that I had learned all I could where I was studying at the time, and that I should go and try something else. Ultimately, that is what I had to do, but I never worked harder to stay on the path I knew was meant for me. I would never speak to a student in such a way, but it didn't deter me. It only pushed me toward my goals.

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

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