Watch Lil Buck and Jon Boogz Use Dance to Advocate for Racial Justice

"If we're serious about correcting the imbalance created by decades of inequality, we have to do more than just be silent." That's how lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson frames the problem of racial injustice in America, especially in the prison system. And dance artists Jon Boogz and Lil Buck have responded to his call to action by speaking out with their bodies.

The two dancers teamed up with Stevenson and artist Hank Willis Thomas to create "Am I a Man?", a short film that depicts a heartbreaking—and all too common—journey through the brutal realities of the criminal justice system. The choreographic storytelling is intercut with commentary from Stevenson, who articulates just how unfair that system can be to people of color.


"In this country, we don't want to talk about racial bias in our criminal justice system," Stevenson says. "One out of three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, in prison, on probation, or on parole. In communities of color, there is this despair, there is this hopelessness that's being shaped by these outcomes."

"Am I a Man?" is produced in part by Movement Art Is, a nonprofit founded by Jon Boogz and Lil Buck to help dancers harness the social impact of dance. The first MAI film, "Color of Reality"—a meditation on the racial and economic tensions that dominate the news cycle—went viral last fall.

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Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

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Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

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Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


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