When this writer first met Hope Boykin at an Atlanta reception for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater a few years ago, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Her physique is amazing. Upon introduction, I learned she was an award-winning dancer and choreographer. She walked with such grace and elegance, I vowed that in my next life, I too would dance.
The three-time recipient of the American Dance Festival’s Young Tuition Scholarship attended Howard University and performed with Lloyd Whitmore’s New World Dance Company. A Durham, NC native and dancer most her life, Boykin is celebrating her 15th season performing with AAADT. “My mother introduced me to dance when I was about three or four. I fell in love with it. It became more than a hobby,” she shares.
In 1998, the powerhouse performer and spatially aware dancer won a Bessie award. In 2005, Boykin choreographed “Acceptance In Surrender” in collaboration with Abdur-Rahim Jackson and Matthew Rushing for AAADT. Most recently she choreographed “Go In Grace” with award-winning singing group Sweet Honey In The Rock for the Company’s 50th anniversary season.
AAADT artistic director emerita Judith Jamison calls Boykin a goddess who shares the Ailey vision that demands “technique, commitment, courage, power and lust for life.”
Read what else Boykin has to say.
Why do you dance?
I dance because I have to. There’s nothing that fills me more, gives me more pleasure. I am able to impart the gifts and God-given talents to anyone who’s interested in seeing me express my ideas, my thoughts and my emotions. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater travels all over the U.S. and we have been to over 71 countries on six continents and being able to share your gift with people who just love the art of dance is a pleasure and a blessing.
It’s a calling.
What do you remember about your first recital?
I don’t remember my first recital but I was told there was a young girl out of line and I left my position to put her back in place and then I went back in line to my place to complete the dance. It kinda sounds like who I am right now.
Who are your idols?
In life … my mother because she supports everything I do. In dance, Judith Jamison … she’s stepped in as a mentor and a friend. Considering Alvin Ailey chose her to run the company and she did so for 22 years, and she hired me before selecting Robert Battle as artistic director, my life changed because of her.
Where do you find the confidence to perform before audiences around the world?
Having confidence to perform comes with proper rehearsals and being prepare. The more you prepared, the less you have to worry. There’s always your nerves when performing a new work for the first time or when I have family in the audience. The minute you feel over confident, you should stop because that means you have gotten ahead of yourself. If you can’t continue to grow in your craft, your art, then what’s the point?
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Fox Theatre for its 2015 Atlanta engagement featuring three special programs. The events run from Feb. 11 – Feb. 15.