What does Esperanza mean to you?

Writer Peace Mutwiri interviewed Esparanza Project dancers, asking them what the project means to them.

What does Esperanza mean to you?

Julia Nichols: Esperanza taught me to love dance again in a very different way. It’s how I express myself and makes dancing one of the most important parts of my life

Bailey Jaquay: Esperanza means safety. It’s a place where creativity and love freely explore my body, mind and soul.

Veronica Pasamante: It means the world to me. I have learned so much about dance and people and myself through the company and I honestly don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t joined.

Why did you join?

Julia: I joined because I felt unfulfilled in my ballet studio and because I love Ms. Braun.

Bailey: I joined Esperanza because my goal in life is “I aspire to inspire before I expire,” and when I dance for Esperanza I truly believe I am fulfilling that goal, and my life, in the greatest way possible.

Veronica: I joined because I saw how Esperanza positively effected the other company members and I wanted to be more involved in my community.

How has being in this project changed your perspective of dance?

Veronica: Esperanza has taught me that dancing is not simply tricks or technique but it can be used to make people feel something. Like it can completely make someone feel sad or happy or angry and that’s so incredible.

Julia: It changed it completely. Dance means so much more than being pretty it’s about emotion and passion and learning about yourself.

Bailey: Esperanza has given expression to one of the most controversial topics of the 21st century. It is not just movement, it’s a way of life. It changed the way I danced and my perspective of dance in the most incredible way. It gave my dancing purpose, gave me purpose.

What’s your favorite dance and why?

Julia: The trio because it is so emotional but also complex and not entirely sad. It’s more about feeling and longing. I think it brings everything together.

What was it like choreographing your solo for I Don’t Pray Anymore?

Julia: Every season that I choreograph my solo I remind myself that this is my moment in the project to express anything that I wish to. I rid myself of fear and boundaries and free my body to creation. Creating the solos is one of the most satisfying and rewarding parts about the project. Your own movement says a lot about the stage of life you are in and I love having the ability to reflect on how I have grown and changed each year through my different solos.

What has Esperanza taught you about dance and the world around you?

Bailey: Esperanza has given me hope. It is the sunshine in my own little personal sky. It chases away the rain and clouds and allows myself to be free and happy.
It has taught me that everyone around you has felt that harsh burden of sexual/violence and assault, but it has also reminded me that when humans unite, we can change the world around us. Esperanza is making great changes, and one day no man, woman, or child of any age will fear.

Thank you, dancers. You give us hope.

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