Photo by David DeSilva, courtesy Axis Dance Company

AXIS Dance Company's Lani Dickinson Discusses Stress Relievers and Bad Dance Habits

Lani Dickinson's power, grace, and raw presence make her a standout with AXIS Dance Company, whose mission is to change the face of dance and disability by featuring a mix of disabled and non-disabled performers. Born in China, Dickinson was adopted by an American couple and started dancing at 8 in Towson, MD. She attended the Boston Ballet School for two summers, studied at the Idyllwild Arts Academy for the last two years of high school, and graduated with a dance degree from Alonzo King LINES Ballet's BFA program with Dominican University of California. In 2015, she joined AXIS and won a Princess Grace Award. Catch her this month during AXIS Dance Company's 30th-anniversary season—and read on for The Dirt!


Where do you feel the happiest?

Among nature: sitting at the park, bike riding along the coast, or hiking trails. My best adventure partner is my boyfriend Jake.

What's your go-to stress reliever?

Knitting is a hobby I picked up at a young age. I usually knit with the TV playing.

What's you're favorite dance movie?

"Mao's Last Dancer" directed by Bruce Beresford.

Who can always make you laugh?

My mom! She has been there to lift my spirit with song, sarcasm, or an extraordinary joke. I am a serious person. My mom is one of the few people that can tickle me without getting her head bitten off.

Do you have any nicknames?

Yes. I like Lanlan.

Have you had any embarrassing moments onstage?

Plenty but I blocked them from my memory. The show must go on!

What's the strangest thing in your dance bag?

Chester's Flamin Hot Fries.

Do you have any pets?

I have had two rats, two parakeets, guinea pics, and three dogs. Oh, yeah, and two brothers (which is an inside joke between my mom and I).

Do you have any bad dance habits?

Looking down at the floor is my worst habit. There's nothing there! Yet I still do it.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I use my left toes/foot to do a lot of things such as tie shoes, knit type on the computer, or hold things.

Who's the performer you'd drop everything to go see?

Marina Hotchkis

If you were a superhero your special power would be...

Teleportation. I wonder what the dimension through which I'd travel through looks like. Fuzzy? Dark? Light?

If you could work with any choreographer, past or present, who would it be?

I love being a part of something new. I respect and would love to work with dance pioneers such as George Balanchine, Martha Graham, or Lester Horton.

What are your pet peeves?

When people lack ambiguity.

What's your dream role or piece?

Any opportunity to be on stage is valuable. Therefore, I only hope that my roles on stage increase in endurance and ability.

What would you be if you weren't a dancer?

Some other type of artist. I love the community of artists too much! Maybe I would be a professional trumpet player, painter, or knitter if possible.

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