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

PC Richard Calmes, Courtesy AAADT

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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