I was born and raised in Amsterdam. My dad is native Dutch (white) and my mom is from Aruba (Caribbean). My mom and dad have always encouraged me and my siblings to be musical. We went to different music schools and they also forced us to do at least one sport and one instrument until high school.
Around 10/11, my mom put me in dance. She said, “[Do} you want to dance at this school?” And she put me in it. I wanted to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson, Beyonce–that was my dream as a young kid. She did that because my family always knew I had a passion for just dancing and being happy, even though I didn’t talk a lot.
I did that until I was 16. And then I went to a high school with a healthcare and cosmetics (hair and beauty) focus. At that time, it was hard for me to only study with books, so I went to a school that would let me work with my hands and do dance. Eventually, I went to a community dance college that was more street dance and improvisational based.
That’s where I was encouraged to find my own style. That’s also where I learned the importance of movement and being in the moment. After three years, I got a scholarship to a modern jazz school in Paris to get more ballet training. There, I met a principal dancer from Ailey, and that’s when I knew I wanted to study there at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City. And I’ve been doing that the past couple of years.
Since training professionally, my understanding of dance has changed a lot. I find myself constantly asking myself, “What is a dancer?” I’ve really thought a lot about what that is and the many forms it can take. Everybody has their own definition of what dance is to them. But I’m learning their definition may not be my definition and that it is okay.
At Ailey, I’ve been introduced to a lot of different techniques and ways of moving, such as Horton, Graham, etc. These are very Western ways of moving and a lot of the styles originate from white men and women choreographers. But I’ve also learned that doing African and other aboriginal dance styles make me feel more free. And through everything I’ve been exposed to, I’ve been able to accept and love dancing my own movement. For me, dance is just natural, and that’s why I love doing it. It doesn’t have to be a special title.