Our newest company member, Aminah Jackson, writes about her experience in CONTRA-TIEMPO's Futuro Summer Dance Intensive, and about getting the call to join our professional company.
I was first introduced to the Urban Latin Dance Theatre in January of 2017, when I participated in a Sabor Session workshop CONTRA-TIEMPO held at Community Coalition.
A few months later I learned they were holding auditions for two dancers that would be a part of their touring company. Everything in my head told me I wasn’t nearly ready to audition for any one’s dance ANYTHING. I hadn’t been in class nor was I in “dancer shape”. But then I remembered how I felt—that overwhelming JOY I had experienced—dancing with them in that one workshop, and I decided to go for it.
The audition was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It felt like a workshop that I have never been fortunate enough to take. We were challenged not just as dancers or movers, but as individuals who were being called to be our complete selves, incorporating our unique experiences into the space as creative artists. I was no longer worried about competing with other auditioning dancers, but could focus on letting my own self shine.
After leaving that space I anxiously awaited a call back. Five dancers would be selected to continue on to CONTRA-TIEMPO’s Futuro Summer Dance Intensive, the final portion of the audition. A day later I was pleased to hear the great news!
Although the Futuro Summer Dance Intensive was only two weeks long, it created an incredible space for breakthrough, growth, pain, and healing. I had no idea what to expect upon my first day of walking into the beautiful space of LMU, I just knew I was on a mission to rediscover the dancer in me and recreate her as more mature artist.
The program was filled with excited faces across the color spectrum from different walks of life, from different states, and even from different countries. The one thing I was sure of after the first day was that I had just joined a powerful community of passionate artists, and I felt absolutely at home.
Each day we trained in styles birthed from the African Diaspora, some familiar and some which were foreign to me. What I appreciated most, however, was the company members’ capacity to share the history and context of each dance form, before and throughout the class. For them, it wasn’t just abut how well we could execute the movement, but if we understood the true significance and could translate it onto our bodies.
My absolute favorite part of the program was our Artist as Social Action classes. Each session was different from the last, challenging us to share more, dig deeper within ourselves, be vulnerable, and trust our community within the space as a support system. The power that came from those short sessions, the hearts that poured out, the minds that opened up, the pain that was felt, the undeniable truths that were shared left us all incredibly impacted. Every day I felt like I was in tears, either from participating in the healing process of a fellow brother or sister, or from my own personal stuff that was being stirred up and bubbling to the surface.
In those two weeks I felt so connected to our shared humanity, and I truly understood what it meant to participate in a community. Yes, I grew in my technique of specific dance styles, yes, I built relationships, but most importantly I felt reunited with the meaning of our existence; to share and be demonstrations of unconditional joy as expressed uniquely through our artistry.
A few days after Futuro’s final performance at the Vision Theatre in Leimert Park, I accepted an invitation to join CONTRA-TIEMPO as a touring dancer! I immediately felt an unshakable peace. It had confirmed that I had made the right decision those weeks prior, to follow my spirit that led me to what is now my new, creative home, CONTRA-TIEMPO Urban Latin Dance Theatre.