This is Feleacia. She is an extremely talented dancer with The Charlottesville Ballet. All you have to do is look at the photos below to see evidence of that! What else struck me about Felecia was her strength, determination, and grace–she is extremely graceful in even the smallest of movements. She strives to perfect every detail of the craft she is so passionate about. It’s both inspiring and motivating! Enjoy her interview.
us: So, Feleacia, tell us a little bit about yourself . . .
her: Ok! The one word that I would use to very much describe myself is: artist. I love to create. I love to share my art–that is dance. I have now become a teacher with Charlottesville Ballet and their academy, alongside of the performing aspect of my job. So, the want and need to share my art through teaching it through performing it really drives me. I would describe myself as very organized. I like to get things done, and I have a certain way of how I like to do things–I think that’s kind of how dancers are in general. We are very detail oriented people, who really like to dissect things down to the last finer detail. I believe that’s how you get better and that’s how I go about. It really serves me in my other aspects of my life, as well.
us: What did you have for breakfast this morning?
her: Avocado toast with fried egg on top
us: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
her: No. It won’t make it’s way onto my pizza. I like pineapple, and I like pizza–but I’ve never been one to put the two together.
us: Do you sleep in your socks?
her: No . . . well, I try, when it’s cold. But then halfway through the night I’ll wake up take them off.
us: What’s your go-to midnight snack?
her: Cinnamon pop tarts
us: Mountains or beach?
us: Current favorite song?
her: “Ocean” by Lady Antebellum–But, for me it’s really more about movement. I will envision movement to it for dance.
us: Salty or sweet?
her: I like them both, but I’d say salty is a more frequent desire.
us: Pet peeve?
her: When people take my scissors.
us: Room entrance song:
her: “I want to Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston. When I get married that’s the song that I want to dance down the stairs into the reception to.
us: Favorite place you’ve traveled to?
her: Rome, Italy. When I was younger my family went to Rome. And, no one in my family wanted to walk around because it was so much walking–so my dad and I went and explored the Colosseum by ourselves. I was obsessed with the Romans and gods and goddesses at that point in time, so it was very special time and a good memory.
us: What’s your favorite room in your house?
her: My living room. I have a really fun chair that’s super big–so you can put all of the things that you need in the chair with you–you can have your laptop, your remote, your snacks and I can put my feet up in it. It’s my favorite place to just plop down and not do anything. It’s a very relaxing spot.
us: Who has been the most influential woman in your life?
her: I’d have to say my mom. Throughout my life she has been a career woman and a stay at home mom. She’s been a cheerleader for all of our activities. When I was growing up, and I really made it clear that I wanted to be a dancer–she didn’t know anything about the dance world at all. She subscribed to dance magazines to try to educate herself on dance and did research. She wanted to be the person to help guide me through this situation because we were both learning at the same time. When you decide to be a dancer you’re like, ten or eleven years old. And, you need a parent to be alongside of you because you could make some really bad turns and decisions, if you’re not careful. I feel like she really made it clear that you can have passions and can meet your goals if you put in the work and go the distance. I have two siblings, and my mom made sure that we each got enough time to do the things that we wanted to do. We did everything– girl scouts, played sports and went to museums. She helped me to know that dreams are possible.
us: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
her: Two that go hand in hand–being a professional dancer, which has been my dream since I was a little girl. But then also, I have a degree in performance with a minor in nonprofit studies. In going to college, I was able to train more and really develop as an adult on my own without being in my parents house. I was able to develop those skills, and then I found a passion outside of dance, which is kind of hard to do when you’ve been striving for one goal your entire life. When dance becomes your career versus your after school activity, it’s kind of a hard transition. It made me question who am I outside of dance? I had no idea, because I’ve been a dancer, and only a dancer for so long. So, getting a degree and finding the other ways to still be an artist but in different ways, has been really great for me too. Also, becoming an artist and being able to make a living as an artist is pretty great!
us: If you could give your younger self a single piece of advice, what would it be?
her: Breathe. And, stop sweating the small stuff. Things are going to go wrong and every little detail doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be great. Be thankful for every small victory. And, don’t beat yourself up because one thing didn’t go your way. Just to relax, it’s fine.
us: Can you tell me about a challenge that you’ve overcome?
her: I think the biggest challenge that has always been a big obstacle in my life and a big elephant in the room is that I am a black woman and I’m pursuing ballet. Things are changing and more diversity is being seen in the dance world, but as I was growing up, there wasn’t much representation of black women in professional companies. Now we have Misty Copeland and so many other great dancers, but I only had like a few to look up to. I didn’t have many teachers who looked like me. So, just reminding myself that I’m here for a reason, and I have talent. This is my story. Pushing through those hard moments when you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have the body type or I don’t look a certain way . . .” or just the very small things that can get to you because you’re trying to put yourself into an art form that, really, it wasn’t made for you–historically, it wasn’t made for people of color. So, it’s always going to be a little bit of a struggle, but I think we’ve made a lot of big strides. We’re moving forward, and I think it’s very much been something that I’ve dealt with my entire life and will continue to deal with in different degrees.
us: Where do you find your inspiration?
her: I feel like this is going to sound so corny, but, just the majesty of what dance encompasses. We (the dancers) start the day, every day, with a class. We do the same thing every day, it’s kind of ritual. You come in and you hear the music from the pianist or from the track, and you start doing things that you have done since you were, like, three years old–a plié, a tendu . . . the movement and what comes behind–it starts the same every morning. You get to revisit those movements of what you felt when you were little. Even on the days when it’s like, “Oh my gosh my body hurts, my head hurts, my back hurts. This is awful. We have a whole long day ahead of us.” You can do a plié and a tendu and be inspired by that past elation and joy. Then, also know that this plié is a first step into something new that you’re creating that day. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning. I feel the most happy when dancing.
us: Any embarrassing nicknames we should know about?
her: When I was younger, I was very tiny, so my mom’s friends would call me “short legs”, and they would put snacks on the shorter cabinets and shelves for me because I had really short legs. Then as I got older, my dance teacher started calling me Fels–just for short and that’s what a lot of my friends call me. My family calls me Lici because my brother couldn’t say my name when I was younger. Then most recently my boyfriend just started calling me “Baby Shaloopa.” That is what I am in his phone, and I really enjoy it! I don’t know why, but it seems right!
us: Any hidden talents we should know about?
her: I’m very good with tools. I started with little things, like hanging a picture here and there and then it’s developed into full on construction work. I’ve collected a lot of tools along the way–things that I didn’t have when I moved here. In my next life, I might be a house flipper!
us: What are you most thankful for?
her: First, I’m most thankful for my family and the support that my parents have given me throughout the years. I think when your child tells you, “I’m going to be a dancer,” you probably think, “Oh my gosh, we’re going to be supporting her for the rest of her life!” They’ve been very supportive and continue to be supportive of my decisions. I think the other answer would be the community and the supporters that I have through friends I’ve met in college who I still talk to. Most of them are also dancers–so we’re all just supporting each other through this season of life. Also, my boyfriend because he has put up with a lot of crazy over the years. He had never met a dancer before we started dating–so he’s had to really understand what that meant. Also, just that I get to wake up every morning, and I get to do what I love.
us: What is your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville?
her: I’d say the people. I’ve met some really nice people. The city is charming. I moved here right after the riots. I was set to move like two weeks after, so I was very nervous. But, I thought everyone seems really nice there and that doesn’t seem like the community that I had visited. And, I’m very happy to say that that is the case–everyone is great here. Charlottesville is a wonderful community!
Thanks for sharing with us Feleacia!