My name is Jaivyn C Beauford (Jai) and I am 17 years old. I live in Atlanta, GA and I dance at Norma's Academy of Dance.
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Hello, world, I am Jaivyn, and I am honored to share with you who I am and what I have learned while becoming @amazingjai. It all started when I was almost three years old, and my mom decided to take me to dance class. Luckily my G-ma ran into Ms. Djana, the studio director, who shared with her that Norma’s Academy of Dance was located near my home. The family was excited because my mom had trained under Mrs. Norma B. Mitchell, the founder of Norma’s Academy of Dance. Dancing in front of mirrors, putting on my tap shoes, rolling around on the floor, standing in the front of dance class with my ballet shoes, seeing my friends, and most of all listening to the melodies allowed me to escape and enjoy the peace, joy, and happiness that dance provided me.
The studio is my world where I escape and am free to be me. Google dictionary says that “Freedom is the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.” To me, freedom means dancing and learning choreography, and sharing my gift when performing without leaving anything to chance by putting it all on the dance floor. I don’t take for granted being able to have freedom in my world of dance. I have learned so much about myself being a budding artist in the art of dance. I am disciplined, dedicated, and determined!
Currently, I serve as a Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador, where I raise awareness of diversity in the arts. I proudly share my story about my successes and opportunities that I have faced in the dance industry via podcasts, blogs, and other social media outlets. I also am the program director for an initiative called DanceShoez, where I collect and distribute gently used dance shoes to those dancers who may not have the resources to pursue their dance dreams. I thrive on encouraging younger dancers and being a role model for brown girls who don't often see themselves thriving in dance.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Access to training and perfecting my dance technique has been easy for me primarily due to the sacrifices my parents have made for me. Ms. Djana, my dance director, often reminds me that being able to take dance is a privilege and that my parents make huge sacrifices so that I can enjoy the opportunity to train. Not only at Norma’s Academy of Dance, but in different places such as The Joffrey Ballet School, New York (Alvin Ailey), Colorado (Cleo Parker Dance), Ohio (International Association of Blacks in Dance), Alabama (Troy State University), California (Edge Performing Arts Center) or anywhere else I go to improve my artistry. All these places have allowed me to improve my technique because my family's sacrifices help fuel my passion.
What personal limitations if any did you go through in your young career?
And a one, two, three, and a four, five, six, seven relive’. These are the words that I know and love, but not when it came to taking pointe for the first time. Many ballet dancers thrive on pointe, and every week I work to survive through pointe class, and I work harder and harder to get on my box and execute my feet in my pointe shoes. Whew! The struggle is real, but the rewards are limitless! I am learning that I love a good challenge and pointe class gives me just the challenge I need. I have an affirmation for my feet that keeps them going every week, and it works! Also, as a Brown Girls Do Ballet Ambassador, I promote diversity in dance by being in the room to represent the underrepresented artists that may not always see dancers that reflect who they are. I used to think of being underrepresented as a limitation, but through my growth and maturation in dance, I consider diversity as a standing ovation.
Before I go, I want to share with you some advice that I would share with anyone if they ever asked me about taking yourself to the next level in dance and achieving your goals…
Being a part of a technique-based studio has changed my life! I have been able to learn at Norma’s Academy of Dance what some dancers learn later in their careers. I am exposed to professional dance instruction, studio etiquette, how to audition, artistry, responsibility, life lessons, best practices, and a host of other fundamentals to help me be my BEST! I recommend that you stick and stay at a studio where you are challenged and can see yourself grow year after year with new challenges that allow you to stretch yourself. Lastly, stay focused on the goal, not everyone else.
Has anybody ever tried to limit you on what you could do? If so how did you fight it?
Yes, my peers have tried to limit me with discouragement and negativity. In school, it is often not popular to be assertive and focused on achievement, however, I fought the limitations with my actions of sharing my talent, being confident, excelling in my classes, and achieving my goals. I recently wrote an essay about self-love that emphasized the inner being and thoughts that helped me realize that it truly is "mind over matter". Loving yourself and embracing who you are is how you fight! I am a bold, beautiful, black, vibrant being with goals and aspirations to be the BEST! Limitations are only reminders of my efforts to break barriers and strengthen my abilities to overcome them.
How do you conquer negative talk?
I conquer negative talk by outweighing negativity with positivity! "When they go low, we go high" as our former first lady Michelle Obama reminded us in an address to the American people. It sometimes is not enough to ignore, so I amplify my voice with my advocacy efforts while proving that positivity and the pursuit of equality and justice WINS!
What is your favorite quote?
“I am in competition with no one. I run my own race. I have no desire to play the game of being better than anyone, in any way, shape or form. I just aim to improve, to be better than I was before. That’s me and I am free.” – Jenny Perry
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
What's next for me? Planning to secure scholarships for my college education to pursue my dream of becoming a commercial dance artist and physical therapist for dancers is my top priority. As a dancer, I know firsthand the challenges of the body, injuries, and ailments that may sometimes affect the dancer's ability to perform. I am a rising senior and I am almost finished with my junior year in high school. I have seen so many of my mentors excel in their college experiences, and I want to make them proud by proving that I can do it! It's enough to pursue your passion, but it is also complementary to putting your coaching and mentorship into action. Hard work pays off. I am in the top ten percent of my Junior class. I was recently named a Governor's Honors Program finalist in dance. I am represented in multiple honor societies that require strong academics, and I am a gold medalist for the NAACP Afro-Centric Scientific Olympics in dance/modern. Big plans require big commitments for both my academic and artistic successes. I am up for the challenge!