I was one of the almost 100 young dancers who participated in the groundbreaking Imagination Celebration production at Bass Hall of Pepito’s Story, an original dance performance based on the children's book of the same name by Eugene Fern. It was commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Kennedy Center. Directed by the legendary Debbie Allen, Pepito’s Story gave many young people like me the chance to participate in a professional-level program.
When Imagination Celebration announced that they would be producing Pepito’s Story in Fort Worth, my mom took me to audition and I was selected to be part of the youth cast! I was only 7 at that time, though I had been a dancing since the age of 4. “My mom taught me tap steps on the tile floor in the kitchen.When she saw that I had rhythm, she enrolled me in classes right away.”
My work with Imagination Celebration and with Debbie Allen began with Pepito’s Story, but it has continued with my ongoing participation in Imagination Celebration’s Debbie Allen Dance Institute - created by Ms. Allen and Ms. Ginger Head. It gives talented youth from the Fort Worth-Dallas area and around the country a chance to attend a world-class two week dance intensive during the summers. I was also selected for a scholarship from ICFW and Ms. Allen to continue study at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Dance opened the doors to my love of musical theatre and to my selection as a Young Master for the state of Texas.
I have always known that I wanted dance to be part of my life, but after performing in Pepito’s Story with Broadway star Lacy Phillips and internationally acclaimed dancer Rasta Thomas, I knew that I wanted to be on Broadway. I wanted to act, dance, and sing on the stages of New York City and to be in film. “I hope to be dancing until the day I die.” I used to feel that I sacrificed a social life as I prefer dancing to going to football games. I no longer feel like I am sacrificing anything. “I have never doubted my dream to be a dancer. Not for one second. I don’t have a backup plan. I want to be a performer.”
I am grateful to Imagination Celebration not only for launching this dream but for nurturing it all along the way. Imagination Celebration has shaped me as the artist I am becoming.