Passion and strength lead dancer to success

By: Jessica Ricks, Staff Writer

Senior dance major Jessica Pinkett has known for almost her entire life that she wanted to be a dancer.

“I can’t envision myself doing anything else. I tried many different things but the thing that brings me the most joy is dance,” Pinkett said.

Pinkett started dancing when she was four years old at a studio called Baltimore Dance Tech. She received most of her dance training here until she was 17. She also danced in her high school, Carver Center for the Arts, where she got a degree concentrating in dance and performing arts.

She also did a few Alvin Ailey summer programs on scholarship, out of state summer intensives and a competition in Los Angeles called ACT-SO (Afro-Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics).

Now as a Towson student, Pinkett participates in many dance programs. She is in Sigma Rho, a dance group that helps within the dance department, but also outside of the University in order to integrate arts into the community. She is now a company member of Ballet ADI in Rockville, Maryland, and she is an apprentice with Ailey II.

“I have wanted to be part of the Ailey Company ever since I knew of their existence,” Pinkett said.

After participating in Ailey summer intensives and seeing what she needed to do to in order to push herself, she made the decision to audition for the Alvin Ailey first company. She didn’t make the cut, but not landing the audition didn’t stop her.

“It, more so, was a learning experience than anything else,” Pinkett said. “I wasn’t discouraged by any means. I saw a lot of beautiful dancers and met a lot of beautiful people. I was able to see my idols who I looked up for several years teach me in this audition process so I gained so much more than I lost.”

She was then asked to audition for the second company, Ailey II, by artistic director Troy Powell. Among the 80 women who auditioned, she was one of three who were given apprenticeship to the company.

Pinkett said she is inspired to dance by many people and things: her mom, dancers Misty Copeland, Judith Jamison, the dance department’s own Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, professors, friends, nature and things she reads.

“There are so many things that inspire me to dance but I think it’s my own drive that keeps me going,” Pinkett said. “It’s a physical thing. It’s something you feel and something that grants me comfort and warmth and understanding.”

For the remainder of her time at Towson, Pinkett wants to reach out to the community and help others utilize their resources to reach their goals. She wants to continue teaching and doing master classes, collaborating with other artists and musicians, and even put on her own dance production.

After graduation, Pinkett plans to do everything she can to excel in her dance career, including auditioning for other dance productions and companies as well as the Alvin Ailey first company.

She said she wants to, “just live as an independent dancer, person, black woman.”

Pinkett has experienced first hand that it is not easy to be a dancer, but to her it’s all worth it in the end.

“It’s like people assume as a dancer everything is cut and dry and you just do these certain steps and everything is so easy and as a dance major you’re just frolicking around all day,” Pinkett said. “It’s a lot of work and a lot of study and just studying your environment and seeing how you could take something so simple and so pedestrian and make it into this glamorous thing. That’s what we do as these technicians of our craft.”

Pinkett has learned a lot over the years, and when it’s time she will be ready to go out and make an impact in the world.

“My movement is the physical manifestation of who I am as a person and it comes off that way,” Pinkett said.

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