When I was younger, I danced for fun. I had no idea dance could tell a story or share a message. I definitely didn’t realize dance could be activism or I could be a dancer-activist.
But dance holds huge power: To express what words cannot. I’ve learned that while dance can be entertaining, it can also be educational and eye-opening. I’ve realized that it is my responsibility to use my art to raise awareness for causes close to my heart.
In November 2015, I choreographed a contemporary dance solo to the remix of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s song “Otherside,” and I’d like to share it again (below) with Dance.com.
I am a huge fan of Macklemore’s work, and this song really hit close to home. It discusses Macklemore’s struggles with drug addiction. Addiction has affected my family several times. The first time was when my cousin Casey McLoughlin died of a heroin overdose when I was in preschool. And a close family friend lost his battle to heroin addiction in 2014.
When I heard this song, I knew I had to create a piece to it. Addiction is a national crisis, and it is a mental illness that does not discriminate. People of all races, genders, and socioeconomic classes suffer from addiction, and it kills tens of thousands each year. By performing this piece, I was able to start a conversation about the dangers of addiction while also paying tribute to those who lost their battles. A video of the piece can be viewed here:
In past April, I performed a contemporary dance solo that was choreographed for me by Vanessa Long to Mary Lambert’s song “Body Love” at the showcase for Long2 Dance Company. This performance was a freeing moment for me, as I have struggled with an eating disorder and poor body image for many years. It allowed me to provide a visual representation of my internal struggles, and it helped bring more awareness to these deadly issues. Here’s the piece:
When I’ve shown people these videos, I’ve received mixed opinions. Some people have applauded me for bringing light to important issues.
Other people have said: “This is too heavy. I watch dance to be entertained, not to think.”
Regardless, it is extremely important to me to use dance to make a difference. Dance has the power to change the world, if we let it.