Storytelling is at the heart of who I am. It’s part of my job, my creative process as a dancer, the way I see the world, and the way I hope people see me. I am an ever-evolving story unfolding each day right in front of my eyes. As I recently celebrated my 7-year anniversary of living in NY, I can’t help but pause in awe of the life I am living and where my journey has taken me. Looking at the pages of my story that have yet to be written and seeing the themes of the previous chapters becoming recurring characters of my life, the word PRIDE is one that has ever evolving meaning for me.
If you’ve read any of my previous entries, you know that this past year a team of various staff across Educational Alliance sites came together to plan the first ever series of events celebrating PRIDE and LGBTQIA+ inclusion. My mind is still spinning from the success of this endeavor, and the fact that I get to work for an organization that allowed me to take this dream and turn it in to a reality. With such positive feedback and community response, we have decided to bring the series back next year by elevating and expanding its efforts to fully embrace what it means to LIVE FREE, LOVE FIERCE. The vision of the series will be the same, but I can’t help but ask myself “Can we do more?”. David Stallings, Director of Arts + Culture here at the 14Y, answered that question for me regarding our Queerly Contemporary Dance Festival.
Last year this was our “one night only” kickoff event to start the whole series, celebrating Queer choreographers with a night dedicated to celebrating dance and the LGBTQIA+ experience. This year, David has graciously agreed to expand this time in the theater by setting aside 3 weeks for the two of us to curate Dance, Theater, Film, Music, Drag, and more. The heart behind this expansion of the project is to show that there are multiple ways to tell a story, and to give a platform to these different storytellers to share their journey’s through the art form that speaks to them. Stories hold weight and giving people the ability to tell those stories creates opportunity for people in similar situations to find comradery and know that they are not alone. As this series expands to include 3 weeks of live performance instead of just 1 night, it is becoming more and more evident the value of creating a space for people to find like-minded individuals and build community over shared experiences is profoundly needed for people to thrive.
In New York City, you can walk by faces every day that you might never cross paths with again. People are constantly searching for a home, a friend, or a safe space and that is what this whole series is about. To create a safe space where everyone is welcome…welcome to share parts of themselves that they may not be able to in other aspects of their day to day lives; to be celebrated for being the most authentic version of themselves, and to make connections with others who have walked that same path. Stories can take so many different shapes and are attached to a wonderful human who experienced each part of that journey. So be confident in who you are, never stop sharing your stories, and allow others to see how you choose to LIVE FREE, LOVE FIERCE.
If you or someone you know is interested in sharing your story as a part of this year’s PRIDE Fest, please fill out the submission form: 14StreetY.org/PrideFest
Applications are open until 10/31!