The veteran dancer with the newfound focus
As a Professional dancer, Daphne Lee had reached heights that many hopefuls have only dreamed about, but somewhere along the line, she found herself at a crossroad. “Being an artist in general comes with challenges but it’s how you grow from them,” She says. “That in itself seems to be the hardest part; finding motivation to continue to grow and excel.” After a brief moment of reflection and even consideration of retirement from dance altogether, Lee has found that motivation. Maybe it was thinking back on the contributions of black ballerinas before her such as Debra Austin, Charmaine Hunter and Andrea Long-Naidu. Or maybe the recognition of the fact that she now provides representation for all the little black and brown ballerinas looking up to her. Either way, she is back doing what she does best as she has come to the realization that dancing is way bigger than her. The culture as a whole, is definitely grateful.
“Being an artist in general comes with challenges but it’s how you grow from them.”
Daphne Lee was a first generation American raised by Caribbean parents who kept her surrounded by the arts. She recollects moments such as watching old classic musicals with her parents on Sunday mornings and sitting through her mother’s dance classes as moments that would ultimately sway her towards dance and the arts. “Because my mother was my first teacher, I would sit and watch her teach students and eventually I joined in,” She says. “Being with my mom was a way to avoid the baby sitters.”
“My mother was my first teacher, I would sit and watch her teach students and eventually I joined in,”
As she became more adept as a dancer, Lee took the unique road of going from one of the top modern dance institutions in “Alvin Ailey II”, to going into the ballet world. Her versatility has allowed her to dabble in everything from hip hop to modern and all in between. She has been able to show her talents on the court of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and even worked with Beyonce. Outside of the dancing realm, she is also Miss Black New Jersey USA which has given her a platform to further share her art with the world.
“The most rewarding about being a professional dancer is the impact we have on the next generation.”
The love and motivation that Daphne Lee has rediscovered on stage is one she describes as an addiction. The rush of a good performance and the inspiration it may exude, is something she hopes to hold on to forever. “The most rewarding about being a professional dancer is the impact we have on the next generation,” She says. Lee is currently getting her Masters of Fine Arts from Hollins University in Dance and has plans of enhancing a university’s dance program to produce strong dancers for the industry. “My dreams change often but they have the same concept to keep going, glowing, and growing, and eventually get married and become a mother.” And when she does become a mother, don’t be surprised to see her little one at her dance program. You know, to avoid the babysitters.
Featured image by Ziggy Mack, (Courtesy of Collage Dance Collective)