Emmy-nominated choreographer, director, producer and now author Laurieann Gibson proclaims she's an "unstoppable" force, and it shows. After taking a bus to New York City as a young dancer to train at The Ailey School, Gibson climbed her way to the top of the dance, film and television industries, choreographing and directing world tours for icons like Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj. Now, with the release of her first book, Dance Your Dance: 8 Steps to Unleash Your Passion and Live Your Dream, Gibson—a 2020 Dance Magazine Award honoree—uses her story to inspire dancers on their own journeys of harnessing their unique gifts.
To celebrate the release of Dance Your Dance, Gibson took to our Instagram for a live masterclass and Q&A with Dance Magazine editor in chief Jennifer Stahl.
Daring to Dream
The first of Dance Your Dance's eight steps is "Dare to dream." Gibson explains, "It's a risk, and a daring feeling to believe that small voice inside saying you can do something. But once you accept that voice and take that dare, I begin to help you understand how to be confident in it."
In her book, Gibson warns that other people are almost guaranteed to have different opinions about what your dreams should look like—she labels these people "dream killers." But when it comes to achieving your goals, Gibson says "you have to choose your passion over someone's opinion."
Finding Your Team
In the ultra-wise words of Gibson: "Don't stay where your eight counts aren't celebrated." In Dance Your Dance, Gibson candidly opens up about her experiences walking away from high-profile jobs where she felt disrespected, and the importance of dancers surrounding themselves with people they can trust.
"You're constantly being told how great others are, but this book is a road map to how great you are," she says. "You cannot force anyone to love you the way you know you love your gift and the vision you have for yourself. And if they don't see it, they're not meant to see it, but someone else is."
Moving on from Missteps
When it comes to failures, or times that the journey doesn't proceed as planned, Gibson encourages dancers to embrace their mistakes for revealing more about who they are, rather than what they're not. She puts it this way: "I used to développé at 45 degrees like no one's business. But if I constantly felt like I couldn't get my leg high enough, I wouldn't have become the visionary I am today." As Gibson details in Dance Your Dance, mistakes equal progress, and progress brings dancers closer to becoming who they're truly meant to be.