Realizing the Power of Her Voice and Body
Adanya Gilmore can be described as many things: a Students for Inclusive Campus (SIC) club leader, a Virtual Ambassador, and an inspirational performer.
As she reflects on her final year at Beloit, I sat down with Adanya to discuss her personal and professional growth and the many things she has accomplished during her time.
Starting her dancing career at the tender age of 5, she began at an all-Black ballet school in Washington, D.C. Throughout her formative years, Adanya recalls that as a young dancer, she believed dance was an art form that could be perfected and that perfection should be attained. Looking back now, she believes her relationship with dance is not only healthier now, but through realizing the power of her voice and body at Beloit, she’s found inner control of her own professional narrative.
This notion manifests itself in the kinds of qualities she uses as a SIC leader as well as how she works as a choreographer. Her two-part solo for December Dance Workshop Performance, Beloit’s annual student choreography showcase, is marinated in this idea, as she tackles the puppet-like nature of external and internal physical and mental control, and how demanding and maddening that control can be. Working with Beloit’s costume designer, Shelbi Wilkin, Adanya emphasized how meticulous she was in selecting her costume. She had a very clear motif she was striving for, and not only did she want to present a thought-provoking piece, but one that resonated with the mental strain we all experience in many forms.
Her amazing work at Beloit caught the eyes of the coveted artists working at the Gibney Intensive Program in New York City, for which Adanya earned a scholarship. She completed a slew of zoom dance classes and discussions, learning from her idols, and finding new ways to master her Beloit education through professionals in the field. As the program took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, she stated that she enjoyed having the structure of the program during a very tumultuous time.
Continuing her introspective journey that began at Beloit, she found her own specific formula for what kind of dancer she wants to be and how to articulate her ideas to her peers in a way that made her feel comfortable moving outside the box. This connects to her work at SIC, as the primary purpose of the club, created by Adanya and her peers, was to have a safe zone for students to feel comfortable being themselves and to create a healthy support system pushing them out of their comfort zone. She continued this process by providing Zoom Healing Movement courses to her peers this fall, as a modem of self-reflection and to tackle an overwhelming sense of helplessness she was feeling because of world events.
It was impossible for Adanya to avoid conversations surrounding the new wave of awareness of police brutality and the systemic injustice towards Black people. In discussing the theme of social justice and personal growth, she mentioned the death of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. It was impossible to obtain justice for their deaths in the ways that justice has been demanded for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor; whose deaths ignited a more forward-thinking conversation surrounding race and social injustice within institutions.
However, she clearly states that this isn’t the end goal. This mental acceptance of social growth has allowed her to thoroughly consider her position in the larger dance community, as a black dancer in a world generally consisting of white dancers. Coming to terms with the fact in her formative years, she didn’t feel any different to her peers, but people looked at her skin, hair and voice as “other” and that categorization is only instilled further in the larger American population.
By trying to figure out ways to make the Beloit community better and leaving her mark, Adanya mentions that communication and effective collaboration is paramount to growth and success; she learned this through her intensive work as a dancer. Though dance is primarily a physical form of communication, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page regarding what they’re trying to accomplish; she hopes to put this into practice throughout her career after Beloit as well.
As she begins her departure from Beloit, one piece of advice Adanya would like to give to future Beloiters is to be open, reflective, and vulnerable as you attempt to advocate for yourself and your thoughts. Considering your own personal humanity and that of others is a skill full of empathy and compassion and that is a constant necessity wherever you are.