I am INSPIRED.
I am so inspired by you. You have fed my soul through my entire life. I grew up listening to your music. My mother grew up listening to your music.
Every move I manifested in my childhood, if it wasn’t music from the Middle East, it was coming from all of you…
You inspired me to move in a different way. I saw it the second you all walked out on stage. You moved in a way that I knew was my future. It was the future. I am inspired by you, Walter “Sundance” Freeman, and the Gentlemen of Production.
I am inspired by you.
I am inspired by you every day to be a better director of the Salimpour School. By your vision, and your dream for dance and movement. By your legacy and the institution you have left for future generations. I am inspired by you, Alvin Ailey, and the company you created, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
I am inspired by you every day.
To be better. To be more.
To have hope. To be resilient. To make the effort. Because I am inspired by YOU.
I am inspired by you because your music had me running home from school to sit on the floor and squeeze my glutes. I am inspired by you, Prince. Your controversy, your Purple Rain. Every beat. I felt and I expressed.
I am inspired by you, Nina Simone, because you remind me that art is political and represents the time we live in.
I am inspired by YOU.
I am inspired by you, Oprah, for surviving. Surviving sexual abuse and being able to rise above and accomplish and inspire so many in your life.
I am inspired by you Michelle Obama for your family values and your dedication to community, and to service.
I am inspired by YOU.
Black artists, musicians, dancers, community leaders, and public figures have guided me on my path. I could not have created my business, my school, or my format without Black art and leadership. Even my mother, who grew up in Harlem, surrounded by Black art—listening to jazz, going to shows at the Apollo Theater, and going to Lindy Hop clubs—would not have created her method without the Black community in New York.
Today I want to honor all of YOU who have inspired me and countless others around the world to persist, to follow our own path, and to make a difference in this world.