Great Show! If you missed it, check out these pics to get a feel for this beautiful project!
Nykie: Could you share a little about yourself and the obstacle you faced?
Julie: I was born with only half of a left arm. My arm just stops right past the elbow. There’s some medical term for the specific condition, but I can’t remember what it’s called. This was a big surprise to my parents and at the time that I was born there was no way to determine exactly how or why I was born this way. It is easy to tell now that this obstacle has in fact become a huge blessing. What could be viewed as a hindrance, an impediment, or a disability, I view just as part of what makes me me. As I grow older I am learning to accept myself fully for who I am and how I was made. Not that I am defined by the fact that I don’t have a left arm, but its a fact of life that can’t be ignored. I have been blessed in this way and I see it as my responsibility to use this obstacle as a way to bless others and make a difference.
We are so grateful to have dancers and performers from New York and beyond partnering with us to present this piece to our community. Here we are highlighting a couple of our partners who will be sharing with us (and you!).
Julie Crothers is a gifted and beautiful dancer that joined us within the last few months as we prepared this project. She came to us through one of those “friend of a friend” connections. We saw her videos and story and wanted to simply do a profile on her - we were so blessed and honored when we learned that she would be willing to come and perform with us. In the clips below she shares some ways in which her physical differences impact her dance, but moreso discusses and exhibits ways in which she is unlimited in her artistic expression.
Liberata Dance Theatre
As a non-profit organization, Liberata Dance Theatre, Inc. was formed to provide dance and theatre works with themes created mainly from Caribbean, African and African-American rich history and culture to the people in the U.S.A., The Caribbean Islands and international countries. LDT presents unique “high impact” works which raise awareness of various social, environmental and global issues that are affecting everyone.
Monica: I honestly don’t know… I started dancing at the age of three and I don’t ever remember not dancing. I imagine the tutus were my primary motivation at that age. I had a little pink elastic tutu that I used to put on at any time. I would put it on when I was getting ready to go to ballet class or….just over my blue jeans. I was not picky. My first recital I had a little long blue tutu that I loved. I remember loving being on stage and not feeling shy or embarrassed, that was important too. So….to answer your question…the tutus.
Gloria: What is your favorite dance move? Why? And can you demonstrate it for us?
Monica: My favorite dance steps have generally been big jumps – I loooove big jumps. It’s hard to verbally describe why but I just think that it’s the lightness combined with power. It’s such a dynamic move. To answer the third part of your question: not really. (laughing). I wish I could do a tour jete (turning leap) the way I could when I was 16. Interestingly, I hurt both of my knees while doing big jumps so it was a big deal for me to get back to them when I was recovering and I still love them!!
Gloria: what was your most resilient moment in your dance career?
Monica: Healing from my knee injuries. I was 16 when I had my first knee surgery and in my 20’s when I had my second knee surgery. The first one was harder for me. I had to sit out for a long time and it took me a while to get back to my base. I remember siting in the audience and crying when I was unable to be in one of the performances…..and when I did start back I was very hesitant. My confidence was shaken. It was hard to overcome that but I loved to dance so there was no other choice. I remember when I was in rehab I would say – it still hurts when I do this – and do some crazy thing – and my doctor would say “well don’t do that” and I would just sigh and roll my eyes and keep trying to do it. Lol.
Gloria: Current guilty pleasure?
Monica: “Here Comes Honey boo boo”
Gloria: Where would you hide food in the office refrigerator?
Monica: In the back – behind everyone else’s stuff. I hide my special creamer for my coffee back there.
Gloria: Have you ever eaten someone else’s food?
Monica: No, that’s gross. I don’t know what other people do to their food. That’s weird.
Gloria: Have you ever smelled your dance bag and offended yourself?
Monica: No! – well dance shoes, yes.
Gloria: Did you look around to see if anyone was watching you? Monica: Of course!
Gloria: Did you identify the smell? Monica: Smelled like hard work. :-)
(Author’s Note: Much laughter occurred during this interview, especially during the introduction of Honey Boo Boo and the dance bag odors :-) if you’re a dancer, you know you’ve had that moment too!)
More to come, follow us on our journey. Resilient Soul, Sep. 22, NYC
In an effort to share more about ourselves and our motivations, we interviewed each other. This second installment highlights Gloria’s journey: past, present…and future. dance. career and advocacy. a growing family.
Nykie: Gloria, How did you first meet dance?
Gloria: I first met dance through Lionel Richie’s video for his song Hello. My second cousin was in the video she didn’t do anything major she was like an extra in the video. So she took me to a video rehearsal once and I remember the feel of the studio being really exciting. When I saw the final version of the video there was a dancer that did this grand jete. It was beautiful and I wanted to do it too. I was probably four or five years old. Well my aunt caught me trying to do this grand jete, what she and I dubbed “the scissors” and decided this was way too dangerous. So then we lowered me to the edge of the couch not realizing that this was not the way to reach the beautiful height of the dancer in the video.
Nykie: What’s the concept behind your piece for Resilient Soul and your inspiration for the piece?
Gloria: Its hard to put this into a single category but suffice it to say that children involved with the child welfare system often have these stories that no one is telling, and that most do not know, even those closest to them…unless of course they are the perpetrators of the harm. Harm being physical and/or emotional abuse or neglect. There are thousands of children in the child welfare system nation wide and each of them have a different reason why they’re involved. This particular piece focuses on a specific abuse experienced by some kids but the heart of the dance is the emotional baggage that follows them regardless of the specific type of abuse. Its focus, I guess I would say, is the fallout of abuse or neglect, the the guilt, shame, anger, confusion, over the trauma and the loss of connection. The dance… I guess overall… is like an ode to children who have all these emotions that are involved with child protective services carrying the baggage of mistrust, distrust, hopelessness and unforgiveness that kind of festers within them. The reality is that if you don’t have a connection to someone involved with the child welfare system you may not know the realities faced by these kids who then effectively “graduate” from the system at 18 and then have to try to function alongside folks who never knew the horrors or traumas these children grew up with. I say all of this to say the dance is really trying to channel this bubble of emotions and difficulties that occurs for the graduates of the child welfare of system.
Nykie: What’s one of the hardest things you deal with as an obstacle to overcome when you dance? what are you facing as a dancer and how do you overcome that?
Gloria: Well currently its physical (points to pregnant belly)…
(Author’s note: I just have to pause here to point out that my beautiful friend Gloria is having a baby. What a significant journey she is on and we are so blessed to be witnesses and supporters and to send love her and Cory’s way. Baby Harris attended two rehearsals with us before we knew and now we are sure he or she is dancing along with us. When we set out to do this dance project we proclaimed and acknowledged that transformative things would happen this summer….little did we know – ok, back to the interview)
Nykie: What’s one of the hardest things you deal with as an obstacle to overcome when you dance? What are you facing as a dancer and how do you overcome that?
Gloria: Well currently its physical (points to pregnant belly)…..but when I think about it over the life of my dance experiences there has always been some “physical element that had been at the forefront of my dance obstacles. Being pregnant you are unable to do a lot of what you want to do or what you could ordinarily do not just because of growing belly but because of safety. The vitamins cause certain muscles and ligaments to relax, I think in preparation for the arrival of my little bundle, that can make you more prone to injury when you do quick, jerky, or sudden moves. Well anyone who know me knows those are my favorite moves! Then couple that with my aging body that doesn’t allow me to do the things I could do with the ease I could when I was a teenager. But of course when I was a teenager a large bust, a 5’1” height issue, and thick muscular thighs prevented me from being accepted at a couple of dance conservatories that I really wanted to attend. I remember once after an audition the panel asked to speak with me. They promptly informed me that although I was by far the best dancer in the room they were concerned that my body frame would not get smaller even if with diet. But they wanted me to go on a diet and perhaps attend a workshop at their school over the summer to see if they were wrong. I was devastated but of course if I had gone on that diet, went to that workshop and proved them wrong, I could have missed the opportunity to become an attorney and represent in court the very children who inspired my piece. What God has been revealing to me is that movement and being a choreographer is not about all of the crazy funky moves I can do or come up with, its about the process of getting to those moves. Sometimes you have to be in a particular body and/or state of mind and being to create.
Nykie: What’s your favorite dance move?
Gloria: Over the back shoulder roll into a split with a reach..actually I enjoy this after a pique arabesque into the roll to be precise.
Nykie: If you could choreograph a dance based on a movie, what movie would you choose?
Gloria: The Color Purple (then…she recites “sat in that jail, sat in that jail down there bout don rocked to death. I know what it like Ms. Cili wanna go somewhere and can’t. I know what it like wanna sang and have it beat out ya. I like to thank you Ms. Cili for everything that you done for me. I remember that day I wa sin the sto wit Ms Milliy. I was feeling real down I was feeling mighty bad…but when I seed you. I knowd there is a God I knowd there is a God and one day I’s gonna get to come home” (Scene) – (Author’s note: Yes, she actually recited the whole scene while we laughed. This is not the first time that she has recited this and other full scenes from the Color Purple….and it will not be the last.)
Nykie: What is your least favorite dance move?
Gloria: Batterie (small jumps), and almost all allegro combinations center floor in ballet class.
Nykie: What was your worst costume?
Gloria: white shiny polyester biking shorts with biking skirt that was also shiny with a long sleeved white leotard with white full-soled jazz shoes and white tights
Nykie: What is one song you’re listening to the most?
Gloria: Israel: You are Good
Nykie: Favorite dance movie character:
Gloria: Fame: Leroy (we all nod in agreement…and laugh)
More to come, follow us on our journey. Resilient Soul, Sep. 22, NYC