This summer has been a whirlwind. Collage Dance Collective got the amazing opportunity to tour to Missouri for the Spring to Dance Festival, which was a success. From there, I immediately drove 10 hours to Roanoke, Virginia to start working on my MFA at Hollins University for the summer.
My grad school experience completely changed my life. I engaged in performances, wrote papers, practically read a book a week, and learned about breaking social constructs in the dance world. I was surrounded by amazing artists — former dancers with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Kansas City Ballet, Complexions Ballet, and Lines Ballet. I also got to live and learn in Frankfurt, Germany for 3 weeks taking classes with world renowned instructors at Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts.
In addition to grad school and touring with Collage, I was also fulfilling my reign as Miss Black New Jersey USA 2017. This past weekend, I represented my home state during the Miss Black USA pageant in D.C. It was an amazing feeling to be among the talented, focused, humble and ambitious women in the competition. New Jersey has never won this pageant in the 30 year history of the organization. I’m proud to share that I was crowned Miss Black USA for 2017, making history for my state!
Thinking back on the year, I have no regrets. I went to lots of cool events. Two of my favorites were Lyfe is Dope and Artistik Lounge where I got to see people just on their grind and being passionate about creating and being proud. The amount of talent that’s in Memphis is amazing and I’m moved by every experience.
I got talk to 300 people about life as a brown ballerina during Ignite Memphis. I was part of a photoshoot that went viral and I danced in a video tribute to Memphis history. I volunteered at a local church. I got ample opportunities to do arts and crafts, checked out all the hottest food spots, went to a bunch of museums. I had fun at Loflin Yard and at Memphis Grizzlies games.
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I’ve met so many awesome people, and this place only enhanced my artistry and made me even more open minded about new experiences. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with Choose901 and share my journey with you.
I’ve started my third season with Collage Dance Collective and I hope you’ll come see us perform soon in Memphis or on the road in a city near you. If you want to keep up with my adventures go to www.daphnemlee.com.