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Monday, January 23, 2017

Sending an abundance of love, light and positive energy

The incredible Jeroboam Bozeman of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visited my daughter Carmen's 2nd grade class today.

I knew the visit would be special; in corresponding with him beforehand, he would sign off with variations of "sending an abundance of love, light and positive energy." I couldn't wait to see that energy in person.

And I'm so, so glad I did. I really think every child in the classroom felt his energy, light and love. Jeroboam engaged the kids right from the start, asking them questions about their lives, dreams and opinions, and getting every single child talking and responding.

He asked them to tell him their names when they spoke, insisted on getting their names right, and then complimented each child on her name. "What's your name?" "Alice." "Alice. What a wonderful name." He did this with child after child.

He spoke about the life-changing experience of seeing the Alvin Ailey dancers perform when he was a child, and seeing men like him performing with phenomenal strength and grace.

His path to the highest and most prestigious dance stage was anything but easy. He told the students about his family's struggles with housing, the bullying he faced for not conforming to expectations as a boy, and about the many times he auditioned for the Ailey company and was rejected.

No question was too small or too obvious: he took each child seriously, whether they were asking his favorite ice cream (Talenti gelato), how he felt when he was not picked as a dancer (disappointed but determined to work so hard they'd say yes the next time), or whether Ailey is only for black people (it was created to embody and reflect the black experience in America, and has a majority black company, but there are dancers, and audience members, of all kinds, and from all over the world).

He closed by having the children repeat a refrain:

I am a positive leader
My possibilities are endless
I can change the world

And had them say it again:

I am a positive leader
My possibilities are endless
I can change the world

Just imagine a room full of 7 year-olds, from all walks of life, repeating those words! What a crucial message, for any time or any age. In my mind, it was echoing together with the focused blend of joy, strength and determination I saw and felt at the women's marches last weekend.

Sending an abundance of love, light and positive energy!

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