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.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.