Tell us who you are & what you do. Hola, hola, hola! I go by "Chi-Chi" I'm originally from the Bx and I am a lot of things. Dance and other creative things (dancer, actor, choreographer) is what I do, but I am a performer. In whatever way a story needs to be told, I am willing and able to tell it. That's it. For now.
When did you start dancing? Why?I don't know when I started dancing. I was born dancing in a way. It's my superpower and when you have a gift, you have to use it. Even if you end up doing something else with your time/life, your gift will always draw you in to where you are supposed to be. It won't let you leave it. I started dancing professionally after finishing at Rutgers University. I was molded in my teenage years to forget about my superpower and keep it as a hobby. My freshman year in college, my best friend Tom (just a teacher at the time), reminded me that I had something special. I wanted to wait until I was finished with my degree because that meant a lot to me, so that's what I did. I started professionally in 2005, why? because I had to. My superpowers made me.
Do you feel like black women are represented in mainstream and underground dance culture? Yes and no. I feel like Black women in mainstream dance culture are turned into something/someone else. Throughout history, "our" history, we've been turned into "things to look at". Our bodies, our shapes, our range of skin, eye colors and hair textures are very special because there is no other being on the planet made like us. We are a wonder of the world. But we're turned into a sort of spectacle that takes us so far from who we really are that I feel we are PRESENT in mainstream dance culture, but as something or someone else. For example: I used to wear my hair in a ponytail piece for every audition and job mainly because I knew my hair wouldn't mess up that way and I look cute in a ponytail (smacks gum, flips hair). Anytime I wanted to wear my hair out (curly fro, frizzy curls, curly puffs, etc), people thought it wasn't appealing enough. I needed "extra" hair: a half-wig (knew nothing about that until the dance industry). "You would like nice with a long weave" they'd say. "Make sure you wear the long pony" they'd say. "You should straighten your hair again, it looks nice like that"... they'd say. So I and women like me (in mainstream dance industry) have to look a little less Black while the white girl with the cornrows dancing next to me is Poppin! I see black women in their full and true essence more often in underground dance culture, and while I have been removed from both for a few years now, what I see most in the underground are women from Japan, Sweden, Italy, Germany (insert European and Asian Country here) looking like black women, more than I see actual black women.
What are the typical beauty/image standards synonyms with black women dancers?Are there any? I don't know.
Does social media take away from the authenticity of dance? umm YES, next question.
What do you want people to know about black dancing bodies? The black dancing body is directly connected to the psyche of that black dancer. Whatever anyone has ever said about the black dancing body ends up a notch etched in that dancer's subconscious and dictates everything he/she wears, how he/she dresses, moves, etc. They (Black Dancing Bodies) represent strength, power and resilience no matter what they look like, because the Black dancing body is very different from one woman to the next.
Has motherhood changed your relationship to dance? If so, how.Motherhood changes the body, period. It changes not only your relationship, but also your understanding of your body and what it can and won't do. With respect to dance, I think the relationship just changes. Something as simple as jumping is just completely different. For a long time, I had to just find ways to do things differently with this "new body" of mine-whatever that means, I haven't reached the point where I fully understand it. I can't afford (in time or money) for dance to be a top priority any more (unless it's worth the time and worth the money). I have had to change who I am to dance, even though what dance is to me has not changed (it's still my superpower, but now breastfeeding and being awesome to Kane is on my supershero list too). Which just means I won't go too far, but even if I do, dance is going to bring me back when the time is right.