Dance Figure: Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen from a rejected dancer to an actress,
producer, director, and most importantly a choreographer. Debbie Allen is the
daughter of Vivian Ayers a famous poet and Arthur Allen a successful dentist.
Vivian Ayers gave birth to Debbie Allen on January 16, 1950 in Huston, Texas.
Deborah Kaye Allen or “Debbie” Allen began to pursue a
dancing career at the age of four, so at the age of five her parents finally
decided to enroll her in dance classes. On her journey to pursue her dream of
becoming a dancer, she auditioned for an entrance at Huston Ballet School at
the age of twelve rejected because she was “unsuited” for ballet and was also
rejected by North Carolina School of Arts with the same reason. This is also a
term used to intimidate black dancers during this time of segregation.
After being rejected, the second time by the North
Carolina School of Arts at the age of sixteen, Allen paused her dream of
becoming a dancer and instead had focused on her education. Allen’s mentor Mike
Malone advised Allen to keep pursuing her dream of becoming a professional
dancer. Allen later graduated with a degree in drama and began to pursue a new goal,
which was to get to Broadway. During this period, Allen was inspired by Alvin
Ailey to pursue a theatrical career. Allen had reached her new goal of becoming
a Broadway star in 1980 when she played the role of “Anita” in the West Side
Story. Allen shortly won several awards such as three Emmy awards for her
performance in the West Side Story and as well as a Tony award for her
performance in the movie Fame.
Due to her harsh past, Allen later wrote a book in the
year 2000 called “Dancing in the Wings” which is about an offensive racial
saying that dance critics used to describe black dancers which was “unsuited”
for ballet. Allen also wrote another book called “Brothers of the Knight” and
during this same year, she opened her own dance company. The Debbie Allen Dance
Academy is located in New York this dance organization opened to be at the
reach of every student that hopes to be able to one day become professional
Debbie Allen’s quote “But out of limitations comes
creativity” is based on everything she has been through her whole life since
there were many limitations she was still able to reach her main goal which was
to become a dancer. Allen had to overcome all of the negativity coming from
dance critics and keep aspiring to become a dancer. I believe that without her
presence in the dance world she would have not followed through with Alvin
Ailey to open doors for everyone especially for black people to be dancers. I
learned from Debbie Allen that even if there are many limitations just focus on
yourself and your goals and do not let specific obstacles bring you down.