My grandmother always told me “Choose a career you love and you will NEVER work a day in your life”…and I never have.
Photo by Niqko
Upon receiving my B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University all I wanted to do was perform. So I tried my hand at Contemporary Ballet…Not for me, West African…I realized how rhythmically challenged I am, Experimental Post-Modern Movement…Let’s just say that I wasn’t as “open minded” as I thought and finally, straight up hard core gut-wrenching Grand Mal style Graham…PAIN, LOTS AND LOTS OF PAIN! Who knew that trying to find your niche in a world that you completely engulfed yourself in could be so difficult?
Photo by Kimara Dixon
After trial and era by using my body as a ginnie pig (it’s not like I had a choice) and not being completely satisfied, I had to have the serious “Ok, Kamali, what are you doing with your life?” conversation with myself. I first realized that I was basing my level of success on my peer’s success. Second, you can create your own path to your own success. Third, and finally, if you don’t want to dance anymore, it’s not a crime. Over time, I recognized that I was limiting my artistic capabilities in focusing on strictly performing forgetting that there are a plethora of career paths to choose from in the dance world.
After making this self-discovery it was ALL SYSTEMS GO!
Photo by Niqko
Last year I quit my job, my part time gigs, packed up whatever fit in my car and hightailed it from the Nation’s Capital to Atlanta, GA. Since moving here, I have been able to present my own work and perform (when I feel like it) as well. I am beginning to come into myself as an artist and it is the most indescribable, rejuvenating sensation I have experienced. What I most enjoy about this journey is the research process for my works.
My works are primarily influenced and inspired by the manifestation of Black culture. I’m motivated to create mostly on the pivotal moments in Black history that created conflict and distress. I don’t know where the motivation to create work on this matter comes from (and no, it’s not because I’m African-American), but I like that am enthused about it. By me wanting to create works that come from an honest place, it calls for me to do an immense amount of research…So much that now I have an entire library in my home dedicated to my research (trust me if you saw my book collection before it was pretty sad!).
The new piece I have created for Dance Canvas “Keep The Body, Take The Mind”, explores the Black psyche during the Antebellum era, to the 21st Century, based on the methods of Willie Lynch (an infamous slave master who created a divide and conquer method of controlling slaves mentalities). I was intrigued by his brilliant and twisted method and wanted to learn more about his efforts and how he developed these psyches. Lynch’s letter “The Making of A Slave” served my foundation for the piece and “Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch: The Science of Slave Psychology” by Alvin Marrow was used for further investigation and support for choreographic development.
Photo by Niqko
By far this work has been the most mentally and emotionally draining process I have experienced thus far in choreographing work. However, it is well worth it and my dancers Bryanna Brown, Alexis Polk, Kristel Tedesco and Jade Clark have fully immersed themselves into the creative process. We are too excited about the premiere at the Rialto Center for the Arts with Dance Canvas.
I want to thank the Atlanta dance community who has welcomed me with open arms and I am embracing it to the fullest. Thank you to my family and friends for your continuous support in everything that I do.
Photo by Niqko
Hailing from the Nation’s Capital, Emerging Artist, Kamali Hill began her professional career with Dissonance Dance Theater in Washington, DC while earning her B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography at Virginia Commonwealth University. Upon graduating she was given the opportunity by Artistic Director Shawn Short, to present a new work at the end of the company’s season. It was during the creative process of Vulnerable Confinement where Kamali decided that she wanted to establish herself as a choreographer; and create works that stimulate the subconscious and generate thought provoking conversation. That same year (2013), she was selected to present another new work Seeking Redemption in Philadelphia, PA at the Roger Lee Black History Showcase. Shortly after, her career took off and Seeking Redemption was re-staged and presented several times throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area. In later 2014, she relocated to Atlanta, GA in search of new beginnings. Since her move she has had the opportunities to work with Fuerta Dance Company, Fieldworks at CORE, Alan Kimara Dixon, Room To Move, Corian Ellisor and T. Lang Dance. Kamali Hill is extremely grateful for the opportunities God has given her and is excited about the journey ahead.
We loved hearing about Kamali’s spirited journey and we can’t wait for you to see her intriguing work! “Keep the Body, Take the Mind” premiers January 22nd and 23rd at the Rialto Center for the Arts. You can also follow Kamali’s new work on her Instagram @kamalihill
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