1. What is your background in dance?
I started dancing and competing with my hometown studio in Warsaw, IN when I was 7 years-old. This is where I gained a foundational education and technique in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap. I studied under this studio from 7 years-old until I graduated high school; it was a home away from home and a second family to me. My dance family helped me through my worst times, and I shared with them some of my best times. My small town studio was where I first learned the powers of dance and its abilities to heal, celebrate, and bring people together.
As a student at Indiana University, I have completed my minor in dance, and I have studied and performed with several dance companies in Bloomington. The company that has expanded my technique, expression, and cultural and historical knowledge of dance is the IU African American Dance Company. Under Iris Rosa’s direction, I have had the opportunity to learn from dance professionals of the black and African diaspora from all over the world, explore various cultural dances, perform with the IU Contemporary Dance program, and take workshops with Ballet Hispanico and Alvin Ailey. It has been an amazing outlet for me to enrich my technique by exploring a broad spectrum of dance.
2. How did you get involved with Movement Exchange?
I learned about Movement Exchange and the Indiana University chapter my freshman year of college. My new friend at the time, Allison Yates, told me about her experience, and I was so intrigued. I stalked all her photos on Facebook, and I knew this was something I wanted to get involved in. Now four years, three exchanges, a presidency, and a position as public relations director—Movement Exchange has been one of the most important things in my life, rewarding experiences in college, and my passion to share with others.
3. What is your fondest memory of your exchange?
My first exchange to Panama made a really strong impression on me—hence my dedication to the MoveEx ever since. I remember vividly the first time I went to Aldea S.O.S. in Colon, especially because this was also the first time Movement Exchange had ever partnered with this organization. Anna emphasized that she was not sure how the kids would respond to us, and that Colon was one of the more dangerous, impoverished parts of the country. I was honestly scared that morning because I anticipated hostility from the children. The complete opposite happened. The children absolutely adored us, and we adored them. We stayed what seemed like hours longer than we had scheduled simply because we were having so much fun just free-style dancing in the field as one big group. I’ll never forget bachata dancing with little (at the time) Renaldo, the roar of laughter, and the countless smiles as the sun set on our beautiful day together. That is when I fell in love with Panama and MoveEx.
4. How do you define Dance Diplomat?
A dance diplomat is a person who is passionate about dance, in whatever form or context, and utilizes dance as a tool for social activism, cross-cultural understanding, community building, empowerment of youth and underrepresented populations, and communication to transcend all social borders, both locally and internationally.
5. What has Movement Exchange taught you?
Movement Exchange has taught me countless things about myself and others. In a nutshell, though, MoveEx showed me that small connections and interactions can lead to the biggest changes. One small drop in a large body of water create ripples, and those ripples get bigger and bigger. Who knows how far they can go.
6. Who is your favorite choreographer?
I idealized Bob Fosse as a child, so he will forever be one of my icons.
7. What is the most compelling performance you have ever seen?
Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” is my favorite performance. I have seen it twice and the choreography, music, costumes, concept, everything never gets old. It is a timeless series of pieces that because of its connection to human experience and emotion will live on forever.
8. What’s your biggest accomplishment so far?
I think simply getting involved during my time in college. I am proud of the variety of people, organizations, and groups I have become connected with. I believe I have left my mark and a bit of legacy at Indiana University, and I’m proud that I have made my time worthwhile. I can’t wait for the next chapter!
9. Where’s the most exotic place you have been?
I am about to go to Uganda this summer. I think it will be the most exotic of my travels yet!
10. How many languages do you speak? Which ones?
English, and very choppy Spanish.
11. What is one thing on your bucket list?
I want to go on a world tour with my father.
12. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
When I was young my dream was to make documentary films. That is still kind of one of my dreams.
13. If you could time travel, where and why?
I would time travel back to the 60’s and hang out with my mom, because that would be awesome.
14. What are some of your other hobbies?
I love meeting new people. I also love attending galleries and performances of any kind—concerts, plays, musicals, poetry slams, comedy, anything on a stage!
15. If you had a tagline/motto what would it be?
16. What three words come to mind when you think of India?
Colorful. Bollywood. Hindi.
17. Do you think Movement Exchange would be valuable in India? Why?
Of course. Movement Exchange’s mission is valuable anywhere and for anyone. Regardless of the culture, country, political situation, and so on, children deserve attention and feelings of worthiness. Movement Exchange will allow the children of India, in orphanages or at-risk youth foundations, an outlet to connect with foreigners on a personal level, and they will be given the chance to feel appreciated. Even for just one day, a child will know that a person from another part of the world cares about them and thinks that he or she is special.
18. Why do you dance?
It allows me to transform, discipline myself, release, internalize and externalize my feelings, create, and connect with audiences and peers in a way that no other art form or sport can. Dance is the only thing that I feel keeps me grounded, but frees me at the same time.