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.
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer