Monday, January 20, 2014

Embody the Dream

This year I celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by attending NJPAC's annual MLK Celebration featuring the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH). Seeing this company perform was significant for me for two reasons. First because Arthur Mitchell started DTH in response to the assassination of Dr. King and because this is where I developed my love for ballet. When I was younger I attended a local dance studio. My parents decided to send me to the Dance Theatre of Harlem to hone my craft and receive professional training. I fell in love with ballet at DTH! For the first time I saw beautiful ebony ballerinas that looked like me. My training under the iconic Karel Shook, validated my talent and taught me discipline and respet for my gift. My life changed that year so I thought what better way to celebrate MLK then by coming home to DTH.

The event started Thursday with a discussion moderated by Charmaine Warren. The panelists - Virginia Johnson, Michelle Gadsden-Williams, Gabrielle Salvatto and Francesca Harper discussed BLACK BALLERINAS: BREAKING THE BOUNDARIES OF CLASSICAL BALLET. We discussed the need for diversity in classical ballet. African American dancers are under represented in the world of classical ballet as they are in corporate America. We all agreed we need to encourage our children to follow in the footsteps of Dr. King and Arthur Mitchell and be trailblazers. Many of our black swans leave classical ballet because they don't believe they will every get hired. Economically, classical ballet is expensive to see and participate in. I give much credit to my colleagues in the field of dance education who are training and educating the next generation of dancers. Through our daily classes and performances we are educating a generation who we pray will become lovers of dance and future audience members who demand to see dancers on stage that look like them. 

The company performance on Friday night was amazing. Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries Jr. paid tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. King with a soul stirring sermon. The dancers performed with excellence - Agon and Far But Close but my absolute favorite was Gloria which also featured 8 budding black swans. These young ladies raging in ages 10-12 demonstrated poise, professionalism and extreme talent as they represented the next generation of dancers. This piece captured the spirit of Harlem both culturally and spiritually.

The highlight of the celebration for me occurred on Saturday as NJPAC introduced its first Liturgical dance workshop. Theara Ward, former dancer with DTH, challenged us all to dream and then embody our dreams. As we listened to Dr. Kings speech - I HAVE A DREAM, we all wrote down a dream that we had tucked away. I wrote what I believed God wanted me to do in the near future. What came next shocked us all but truly shifted the atmosphere. Theara asked us to dance our dreams. I closed my eyes and danced a prayer. I had prayed that morning about this specific dream asking God to show me the steps to take to bring my dream to fruition. The class was amazing as we weaved choreography into our own dreams. At the end of class we ministered our dreams and I was blown away when a young lady said my dance looked like God was showing me the steps to make my dream a reality. I've written many articles and a book on Dancing My Prayers but this experience showed me the immense power of God when you allow Him in. It convicted to continue to teach the next generation of budding dancers and dance enthusiasts. I am encouraged by Dr. Kings quote "Everyone has the power for greatness - not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service." I pray God will continue to fuel my dream as I work to make it reality. I dance because each and every day as I dance my prayers I embody greatness. I embody the dream for myself and for the children I service.Happy Dr. Martin Luther Kings Jr. Day. Make

Friday, June 8, 2012

Its Never Too Late to Follow Your Dreams

A few months ago Darrell came home frustrated with work. He was working a low paying, unfullfilling job which required an enormous amount of hours. Although He didn't like what he was doing he was thankful for having a job. What frustrated Darrell the most was the fact that he had never pursued his life long dream of acting. He stated "Ever since I was a kid, I've always wanted to act.". Around the same time a soror of mine was promoting her acting class. I told Darrell what do we have to lose, why don't you enroll in this class. We prayed, gave it to God and he enrolled. From there Darrell took off. Since then he has booked a commercial, appeared in an off Broadway play, been cast in the independent film ATAY and will soon star in a stage play at Symphony Hall. I praise God for a husband who strives daily to do the right thing and is a man after God's own heart. The following is a review the play LOVE'S GONNA GET YOU which will soon go on the road to Baltimore, Md. Catch Darrell in the upcoming play IN PRAISE: A UNIQUE DANCE EXPERIENCE at Newark's Symphony Hall June 15-16, 2012.

A cast of eight, relatively unknown actors and actresses deliver lines of life in their journey to understanding, respecting and finding true love.

The off Broadway play, Love’s Gonna Get You', was the best 90 minute play I've experienced in a long time.  Perhaps it was because our very own friend and brother Darrell Pope, the loving husband of Susan Pope, starred in it.

 Act 2, scene 6, enters Bobby Washington, the father of Pablo, the self proclaimed 'player'.   "Listen son.  I’m not the man I used to be".  Darrell begins a genuine heart wrenching conversation, of a father's confession to his estranged son, about his absenteeism.

 As his wife sits a seat before me, teary-eyed, she watches her husband begin the first of many scenes, plays and perhaps movies.  The audience is equally engrossed.  One could hear a pin drop as we clang to his every word, relating to, understanding, sympathizing with how life’s circumstances, can drive a good husband and father to make poor decisions ... the kind that would forever alter their and their loved ones futures.  (I'm consciously trying Not to give the story away).

Great piece of work Darrell!  That role was best delivered by God's chosen apprentice who need not act, but just be himself to share a story line almost parallel to his own life's testimony.  'Love’s Gonna Get You' is a great play, well written, addressing life's favorite subject - love.  It's well peppered with humor and dialogue delivered by a group of fabulous actors and actresses.

Written, directed and produced by James and Michele Woodson - perhaps the next Tyler Perry? AWESOME work!

Editorial by Tinah Bouldin

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Struggle is Over

Welcome 2012! I am so excited about this new year. I'm starting this year off with prayer, fasting and dancing my prayers.  As I start the Daniel Fast today, it isn't as difficult as it was a couple of years ago. Many of the foods allowed on the Daniel Fast are already a part of my daily menu. So I've proved to myself that I can make lifestyle changes. Instead of resolutions I've made a bucket list. A list of things I want to accomplish this year. that I haven't done yet
  1. As a way of becoming a better dancer and teacher I am taking professional ballroom classes. I want to compete at least once this year in ballroom. I have come to love ballroom dancing. It seems like a perfect transition for me as I age gracefully and struggle with not being able to do things with my body that I used to. Since the Struggle is over, I am embracing my 50+ body and enjoying my waltz, tango and foxtrot. I've started taking ballroom classes at Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Stay tuned for my first showcase. I also love teaching ballroom to couples. It is an excellent way to teach the concept of submission and following the leader.
  2. Cake decorating. As a child, I used to love to bake and decorate cakes. Darrell's father was a baker so he has tried his hand at baking many times. I thought this would be an excellent way for us to spend more time together in the kitchen - so I'm taking a cake decorating class at A.C. Moore. My challenge will be to make healthy delicious cakes that will fit into my healthy lifestyle (after my fast is over of course).
  3. SPLIT! Yes at 50+ I'm getting my split back. I took an awesome class a few weeks ago at Power Stretch Studio. It was an amazing class! I had so much energy after my class and I wasn't sore. It was such a great experience and I can now see my split in sight.
  4. Flash Mob Dance - I want to participate in a flash mob dance. Its going to take a lot of planning. Not sure yet if its going to be at school or in some random public place for my birthday but be on the look out. I'm going to be in one this year. Let me know if you want to join me.
So that's my bucket list. Of course I still dance my prayers everyday. I continue to meditate on God's word and exercise with PraiseMoves. I still have challenges but I'm addressing these challenges with a new mindset. This battle is not mine, it's the Lords. The struggle is truly over. I dance because dance is my chosen weapon of warfare. Only He can make wars cease to the end of the earth. I dance because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I dance because God is all the help I need. He is my refuge and strength - an ever present help in trouble. So when trouble comes, as it will, I dance - knowing that my struggle is over. I dance because...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Survive the Seasons!

I'm thankful today for the change of seasons outside and in my life. It amazes me the changes my body is going through. As I get ready to approach the 50 and 1/2 mark I'm reflecting today on the many changes my body is going through. I had the awesome experience yesterday of being in the audience on the Dr. Oz show. The topic was Peri menopausal Rage. Look for me sitting in the first row on the November 3rd episode. I don't suffer too much with the rage but I have experienced extreme mood swings in the opposite direction. I once attended a wedding and had to keep putting drops in my eyes because I kept crying, even before the wedding started. I would get so depressed over anything. I thought my friends didn't like me anymore and just cried all the time. I have since started taking natural vitamins which have really helped with the mood swings and the hot flashes. Growing old gracefully is not easy but it is possible. It is definitely better than the alternative - not growing at all. So I"m thankful today that I survive the seasons. I'm thankful for the gift of dance and how it lifts my spirits. As I dance my prayers in the morning I am renewed and ready for whatever why the winds blows. Today I dance because I've survived the seasons.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I've just finished reading a book titled TEN by Terry Smith. From this summer reading I have decided to live my life on purpose. What does that mean? It means everything I do, I do with purpose and I am allowing God to truly direct my path. I have found that many times in my past I react and live according to what has already happened. Its as if my life has been a reaction to my circumstance. Now I'm putting my purpose in front. My actions are now at the front of my prayers instead of being a reaction to what has already happened. This book challenges me to be a better leader not just to be better but because I have a responsibility to those I lead. As I start a new school year at a brand new school I'm excited about what's ahead. I've asked God to choreograph and synchronize my path to His will. I concentrate on the message He has for me to deliver and from that, the choreographies will come. Its a new beginning for me and I've raised the bar for myself.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Salsa, Salsa, Salsa

I DANCE BECAUSE 2nd annual Salsa party was a success. Even with the rain we had a nice crowd and everyone had a great time. I loved especially seeing all the couples dancing with each other. I even heard that some have been practicing at home.

I still think dancing with your mate is a great way to keep communication lines open. It works for Darrell and I. When we practice at home it forces us to look at how we talk to each other. When either of us makes a mistake if effects the other one immediately and we have to take responsibility for that right away.

I had to opportunity to dance with Jose, the owner of Just One Dance Studio at the end of the party and I felt amazing. That dance reaffirmed my confidence in dancing salsa as he is an excellent salsa dancer and I was able to keep up with him. Darrell and I need to practice much more. It gives us something to work up to. I'm happy with our annual fundraiser. Now I'm on the lookout for board members and setting up an art show/photo exhibit. Be on the lookout for our next event.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Dance with me!

In one week, I DANCE BECAUSE will host its 2nd annual dance party. Some have asked why am I giving a salsa party. I am a dance educator/liturgical dancer with a passion for helping other celebrate life through dance. My husband and I are the directors and the marriage ministry at our church. We started using dance as a teaching tool for our married couples and it is working.

So often in a marriage or any relationship for that matter problems start long before you really notice them. When there is tension in a marriage, one of the first things we do is stop touching. We create more space then is needed between us and become comfortable with not being physically close. Our arguments them begin to be about other stuff than about what really is at the heart of the matter.

The lessons I am learning in dancing salsa with my husband parallel so many lessons of marriage. For me the biggest is following the leader. So often Darrell will say "Let me lead!" I always want to say "but I'm the better dancer and you aren't doing it right!" Of course I don't say that. What has finally happened is he is learning. He realizes that if he doesn't lead correctly we both go the wrong direction and it is his responsibility to get us back on track. He has also learned that even though I am the better dancer, I'm trusting him to show me the way. If I make a mistake its because he didn't give the right lead at the right time.

Do I think dance can save a marriage, probably not but it can help keep the lines of communication open. It keeps us touching our partner in a positive way and forces us to look at each other. Most of all it is great exercise - physically and spiritually.

So, in case you didn't know - Our Salsa party is Friday, July 8, 2011 at Just One Dance Studio in Belleville, NJ. Doors open at 7:30 and the 1 hour lesson starts promptly at 8. This is a fundraiser for our business and our scholarship fund. Tickets are $20. Join us. Bring your spouse or significant other. Say to your spouse or significant other "Dance with me" and see what response you get. Looking forward to seeing you there.