Just What I Needed.


Before leaving for Ailey’s 2018 US Domestic tour, instead of preparing to procrastinate as I have found to become my hobby for the the past 18 seasons, I decided to add an event to my schedule - an event like nothing I had ever before participated in. There have been moments in recent months where I’ve longed to meet more people. I have longed to know people who looked more like me and with whom I would have things in common; and the funny part: people who don’t dance. Well, I found exactly what I was looking for. 

PC: Greg Rose (#BDGPhotoWalk)

PC: Greg Rose (#BDGPhotoWalk)

Here's the backstory: there is a super-cool-awesomely-normal guy who takes pride in his kindness and motivating spirit, and I’ll add his amazing sense of style. I was very millennially connected with George Myrie (@Stuylin) through a mutual friend. I realized he’d planned to come to a performance during our December NY City Center season, so we agreed to do a quick meet. We ended up grabbing tea and a smoothie because I wanted to pick his brain a little on some projects, and I was thrilled to find he was truly as nice of a person as he seemed (nice is a strong word that I don’t use very often these days). 

Anyway, @Stuylin and his group of friends @Collistory and @BeardedDapperGents were having a photo walk just two days before leaving for tour. I knew I needed to go! This was the opportunity I had been waiting for and the pictures posted from their last event made me feel as if this was one of the many things I'd been missing. 

Now let’s be clear, I love my job. I wouldn’t trade my life choices for anything, but I would go back and open my mind a bit more. Yes, I have traveled. Yes, I have seen the world. But neither of those things matter if my world isn’t filled with interesting and invigorating influences. I hate the idea of complaining about living a dream kind of life, but I must fuel my mind and spirit with more.

As new dancer in the Ailey company 18 years ago, I was told Mr. Ailey often encouraged the dancers to go to museums, to see plays, and to meet people. Once a long run of performances is completed I often hide, retreat, or go far away, losing my connection to the real world. I don’t want to get lost. I don’t want to lose out on opportunities and experiences. I need to continue to be influenced. I found some of those influences at the photo walk. I found them in the few conversations I had, in the friendly smiles, and even in the "Hi my name is...what camera is that?", and especially in the few hours we spent walking and learning to hone each of our hobbies or mutual love for photography. 

The day was a crisp one, with the sun making many appearances, and not only was I learning about my camera and the new people with whom I was spending my last precious hours in NY, I was also the subject of many a photo. One particular setting and assignment was to catch a moving subject in silhouette. I was a little apprehensive at first, because I was excited not to be engulfed in dance and there I was about to do the thing from which I was running: DANCE! But, perspective is everything. Literally everything. 

I had no idea what was going to come from those poses, pirouettes, and small jumps, and my only instruction to the masses was to make sure the lines were complete, otherwise known as pointed-toes. They laughed at first, but when I said dancers don’t like being caught in almost there, the group understood. Cellphone cameras, Sonys, Nikons and Canons, amateur and professional alike, were all clicking away. Help was offered if needed without judgment - just pure creativity. I loved it. 

At the end of the day, I began to see little notifications pop up on my phone. "I posted a picture of you," or "tagged you in a picture," and "...said they were with you." Obviously, the day wasn’t just great for me, I felt it was a breath of fresh air for everyone. The beauty that poured out in those posted photos made me smile. And yes, when I saw anyone’s picture of me my lines where complete. 

The thing I wanted most was to meet and build new relationships, and Saturday, January 29, 2018 was that day. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful souls I met, and all of those who I can’t wait to meet and grab coffee or tea with again as soon as the first leg of tour is done. Thank you again to @Stuylin, @Collistory, @BeardedDapperGents for a super awesome day. Below are some of the beautiful souls I captured. Can’t wait for the next one !



Hope Boykin