By Taroue Brooks
What inspired you to become a dancer?
I have always loved dancing since I was a little girl. I loved the way it made me feel when I watched it on television or films and I adored the challenge of getting those movements down. It was something about dance that was so liberating to me and made me feel good so early on I made the decision to find a way to explore that as a professional career.
Tell us about your training to becoming a professional dancer?
I had a pretty late start when it came to training in the various dance genres that aid in having a professional dance career. I started training at my Colonial Middle School of the Performing Arts in Memphis, TN in 8th grade. We were more competition and performance based but I learned some of everything (Ballet, Tap, and Jazz). That training continued at Overton High School of the Performing Arts in Memphis, TN. During that time I also had the opportunity to study ballet exclusively at Ballet on Wheels in Memphis, TN on scholarship. I was 15 taking beginning ballet with 8 year olds and Intermediate Ballet with girls my age. I was hungry to get better. I’ve always been that way. After that, I went on to continue my dance studies at my Alma mater Spelman College where I obtained my Bachelor of Arts degree, and the Boston Conservatory at Berklee where I received my Master of Fine Arts.
Out of all of the dance companies in the United States, why did you choose the Red Clay Dance Company?
I honestly didn’t think being a part of a professional company was attainable for me. I’ve always had people comment on my body as being a hindrance. Red Clay was something that seemed more tangible for me. This company is full of black women of various shades and sizes made a dream of mine more reachable. Not only that but also the fact that these women focus on African aesthetic movement and movement that’s naturally familiar to my body also aided in my choice. It’s an intimate and safe space for black women to move fully, dive deep, and uplift black bodies and stories.
What does success look like for you in such a competitive industry?
Success looks like me being able to thrive in life financially secure from my art.
Aside from dancing, what else are important things that a dancer should embody?
It very important for dancers to embody a sense for deeper storytelling. Your body is moving beautifully but what is your face telling your audience.
Where would you like to see your career in the next five years?
If my body allows me to continue dancing I hope to still be a part of Red Clay Dance company while continuing my career as a professional actress in television and film.
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Kenesha Reed is a dance, singer, and actor represented by DDO Artists Agency-Chicago. Born in Chicago and raised in Memphis, Tenn., Reed is an alumna of Spelman College (B.A. in Drama with a concentration in Dance) and The Boston Conservatory at Berklee (M.F.A. in Musical Theater Performance). She is thankful for her second season with Red Clay Dance.