Trained Dancer From Ohio Takes South Florida By Storm

By Deon C. Jefferson

When the pandemic started, it was difficult for creatives to find gigs, or maintain the relationships they once had cultivated with businesses and organizations. Another area that was affected by the pandemic was the education and arts department. Skilled dancer and recent Ohio State University Alum Iman Clark is one of the many students that graduated in 2020. Upon graduation, it’s expected for you to go into the “real world”. Clark sat down and talked to us about what her world looked like after college, her love for dance, and future goals.

     Deon: What made you want to become a dancer? Were there any moments that stood out to you?

     Iman: First off, I have a lot of siblings. We had to pretty much share everything. As a child, once I started gravitating towards dance, it then became something that was mine. I learned quickly that I did not have to share dance. It was true to me and something that I could call my own. The very first moment that I realized that I wanted to dance came when I saw Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the first time in person. Watching them perform changed my life. I felt every emotion and every dance step on that stage. After seeing their performance, I was convinced. All I wanted to do was dance from that point on.

     Deon: You mentioned one of the most recognizable names in art, Alvin Alley. One of my all-time favorite artists is Debbie Allen. My question to you would be who are some of the other artists/creatives that inspire you?

     Iman: One of the most influential artists to me is no longer living, Jeffrey Holder. I never met him in person, but I can tell that he totally took over the crowd whenever he walked into a room. I looked up to Jeffrey Holder because he was so good at several things. He did it all. He did dance, costume design, visual work, directing, and acting in, just to name a few. I also loved the relationship that he had with his wife as well. So, Jeffrey would be my top pick.

     Deon: You obviously are a multi-talented performer. How do you incorporate all your talents and experiences into dancing and performing?

     Iman: Some of the other talents I have are visual arts and fashion. Those help with costume designing. Another thing I’m passionate about is curation. So far since living here, I have worked with a lot of people who need hello putting together performances. I’ve also helped other artists and organizations with entertainment. Since moving to a new location, I’m still trying to figure out how to use all my gifts and talents. It’s an everyday process, but I’m making it work.

     Deon: That leads me  to my next question. You grew up in Columbus, Ohio. What made you decide to move to South Florida?

     Iman:  As a dance major, I knew that I would have a hard time finding something in my field, so I decided to sign up for City year, which is an Americorps program. I saw that they had a location in Miami, so I then decided to move here. There were other factors as well. I knew that once I graduated, I was going to move, I had no clue where though. I also hate winters, so I chose a place that was the furthest south of America. Initially, I specialize in Afro-Caribbean dance, so I knew I needed to be in a place that supported that. Although New York is a good place for dance, I didn’t think it fit me, so I decided to come here. Did I mention that I hate the winters, laughs Iman. I’ve lived here for a year now.

     Deon: What’s something cool and interesting you want people to know about you as an artist?

     Iman: The biggest thing when it comes to dance, whether I’m teaching or performing is to share this transcending type of energy from one body to another, to one spirit to another, and from one soul to another. Art can be so transcending. There are times when we are going through a rough time in our life, then there are moments where we can be going through a great time in our life. I like to make dance accessible to everyone, no matter where you come from. Eventually, I see myself traveling more.  I want to further my dance research and teach more classes. I like to call it “dance anthropology”. I love learning about the different cultures of dance. One can learn a lot about a race of people by looking at their culture. Fully immersing myself in different cultures is important to me.

     Deon: Can you tell us what it was like being a Dance major at The Ohio State University?

     Iman: It was kind of a love hate relationship. I was so many minorities while I was there. I was a female, a dancer, and I was Black. Eventually, I figured out a way to use that to my advantage. I would say in college, maybe like 80% of my travels throughout my four years were paid, whether it was from the department, or The Black Cultural Center I was very grateful. Often, when Blacks attend a PWI, they get lost, a lot of times there is money out there. You just must find it, especially for minorities. As a student, being a dance major was tough. The first part of the day I’m in a physical dance class, then the next part I’m going to academic classes, then the next minute I could be in rehearsal. So being a dancer was not easy there. Being a dance major was rewarding though. They taught me more than just dance; we had dived into so much more.  We had to take dance film, lighting design, set design, dance technology, and kinesiology. They made us pay attention to the entire production.

     Deon: What advice or words would you say to a creative that may be doubting their calling, or not sure what to do.? How would you encourage an artist that is coasting through the pandemic?

     Iman: The first thing I would say is, “Do what you have to do, to get where you need to be”. Do not lose integrity, we all must pay the bills. When things are easy, you will get bored. It’s going to seem hard when it’s something that you are destined to do. Also, make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who love and support you, people who are like minded, and people that will push you.

     Deon: So, what’s next for you?

     Iman: Well, I’m looking to explore more of South Florida. Right now, I am a Caribbean dance instructor at In De Fete Fitness in Margate Florida. Looking for more collaborators and meaningful projects that allow me to express myself and inspire others.

Iman Clark is carving a lane that seldom dancers try to create. Her experience in dance has allowed her to perform in places such as New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Michigan, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, and Jamaica. She strives daily to advocate for the arts and to bring creative accessibility to all communities. Recently, she performed for the Express Yourself Art Ball and received a standing ovation.

“Iman is the truth”, says Delray Beach resident Avion Marie. “I saw her perform this year and she was phenomenal. Watching her dance was a treat because she puts so much into every movement. I can tell that she really loves her craft.”

“It’s crazy how she is able to control the crowd”, mentions Miami resident Jacob Tyler. “I saw her perform a piece that was related to #Blacklivesmater, she did it shortly after the George Floyd murder. Nobody in the crowd moved, it wasn’t a dry ear in sight. I can’t wait to see what else she cooks up here in Florida”.

 

About Carma Henry 24585 Articles
Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

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