This blog was based on a conversation that DJ had with Paul Morrow and Sarah Archdeacon.
Our conversations moved across a number of topics and demonstrated how passionate DJ is as a dancer, teacher and the Associate Artistic Director of Corali.
For DJ, dancing is a profound art, one where changes takes place. “Everyone has stories to tell”, DJ describes the power of dancing and how it enables him to tell stories. DJ speaks very poetically about how dancing makes him feel, describing how it allows him to become a “free spirit” but also how he uses dance to make connections. “I give my voice, my heart, who I am, I connect”
“Hidden away” is the way that DJ describes how some people feel who have disabilities, “hidden away from their bodies”. DJ talks about that at Corali everyone is valued and that through dance a transformation takes place. DJ comments that “I see a difference in them, everyone is somebody, and everyone’s got a life”. The importance of dancing and how this can release people is clear. For DJ the act of dancing is liberating and that everyone has the “right to be happy and the right to be who they are”
At Corali DJ works alongside Sarah, together they have developed a very inclusive model of dance. There is real rapport between DJ and Sarah and this is evident in the way in which he talks about how they work together. DJ describes their partnership as one that is “ground breaking” and one where they “feed off each other” and that they are a “unit”. Sarah described how generous DJ was with his skills, and his ability to give.
DJ is a role model, but mindful of what the term means. He discusses his practice as a journey, with a sense of purpose. DJ and Sarah spent time clarifying what a role model was, for DJ it is a “it’s a complex thing” and that, “it’s about confidence”. He talks about how he is “proud and confident” and that authenticity is key and that it’s “not about pretending” and he takes it very seriously as it is “power with responsibility”.
DJ is an activist, his teaching and his performance is creative, but there is a moral purpose to his work; “I would like to change people, respect and understand each other, connect people”. Dance and its ability to connect people is made clear by DJ. That through his dance and his teaching DJ makes a “creative space for change”.
One thing is clear, that DJ is on a mission with his work at Corali where he says that he has a “passion to make a difference”, I’m sure that this is happening and will continue to happen as, in his own words, DJ is a “tough cookie and I won’t crumble”.