• Ashley Michelle


Black History Month Edition!

Happy Monday y'all! I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to one of my heroes, Ms. Katherine Dunham.

Kennedy Center Honors recipient Katherine Dunham in all her glory

Where do I even begin?!

I first learned about Katherine Dunham through a project for my Modern Dance class sophomore year at the University of Florida. We were learning about the founders of modern dance and were told to come up with a presentation to share with the class. I did some digging and stumbled upon the goddess above. I get emotional just thinking about it...

A little background:

Two weeks after I graduated from the high school at New World School of the Arts in Miami I moved to Gainesville, Florida and began my adventures as a college student. Not long after that, I found out that my father had left. I'm pretty sure he was counting down the days until I graduated so he could skip out, but we'll leave that for another day.

I was already battling with INTENSE social anxiety and depression. Turns out I had it for most of my life and didn't know it. I turned to a psychiatrist at school who suggested that (along with medication and counseling) I sign up for dance classes. See, after high school I kind of had sworn off the arts. Music theater may seem to be all rainbows and butterflies, but it is not for the faint of heart. So at this point in time I was Zoology/Pre-Vet and had dabbled in Anthropology classes.

Fast forward a year. I switched my major to Anthropology and was minoring in Dance and German. I know, I know... LOL

Then I'm assigned this project that leads me to Katherine Dunham. A woman who, like me, was Black, studied Anthropology, and never thought she could be a dancer. I was #OBSESSED! Reading about her gave me so much life! It was exactly what I needed to keep going. I will never forget that assignment. I made a short video for my presentation. In fact, I still have that DVD!

I won't ramble on any longer, although I can go on for days about how Katherine Dunham has and continues to inspire me and what I do. Please click the link below to find out about her background and contributions from the Katherine Dunham Center for Arts and Humanities.

Katherine Dunham Biography


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