Many artists strive to master their craft and continuously look for inspiration to remain motivated in their field. In this exclusive interview, Indira Goodwine offers a glimpse of her career path with the hopes to encourage other artists.
When and where did you begin your dance training?
Born and raised in Queens, I started dancing at the age of 4 at JJ’s Dance Studio. I was also very involved in my Church, St. Paul Community Baptist Church, where my passion for dance blossomed into a complete love for the arts. From there, I attended Professional Performing Arts High School as a dance major where I trained at The Ailey School and also received several fellowships while enrolled in their Junior Division and Summer Intensive Programs.
I continued my studies at The Florida State University, where I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Communications. Throughout my training, I had an opportunity to work with and perform works by various choreographers such as: Earl Mosley, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Suzanne Farrell, Anjali Austin, Sharon Wong, Gerri Houlihan, Troy Powell, Millicent Johnnie, Shouza Ma, among others.
As a professional dancer, were you only committed to working with choreographers? Or were you ever a member of a company at some point in your career?
After returning to NYC, I freelanced for a while but did work with two companies consistently: Toni Renee Johnson’s Maverick Dance Experience and Tamara LaDonna Williams’ Moving Spirits. Outside of that, I did have opportunities to work with other choreographers who all challenged me creatively and helped me discover new aspects of my dancing.
What would be your ideal creative process?
The ideal creative process allows me to test the waters, fall, find a innovative way to get back up, messing things up, and then let’s retrograde for the heck of it…I love that! It also keeps the mind sharp.
I also enjoy the research. It pushes the creative process forward in a way that requires me to ask necessary questions and ultimately add layers to my personal artistry and the character I am embodying.
Was there ever a time you didn’t feel comfortable within a piece? If so, how did you work through it?
I don’t recall a time where I ever was uncomfortable within in piece. Now, there may have been moments that challenged me, but that is all part of the work. Being able to demand more of yourself becomes essential in your overall growth and development.
How do you view some of the latest work you’ve recently seen? What draws you to performances?
I appreciate going to performances without any knowledge of the work I will see. I try not to read the program in advance for more information as it allows me to find my own connection to the work, which may be a completely different from the narrative that the choreographer has. And that is ok! Art is created for the masses, but I find the beauty in the individual connection and transformational experiences that can occur. Now, of course there are people who are strictly drawn to performances because of the company or that style of dance, but I just try and go see as much as I can when I can. However, I have found it to be the ultimate juggling act being an arts administrator and actually seeing the work you are working hard to elevate to new heights.
Indira Goodwine – Photo Courtesy of Daniel Rob
The importance of Higher education. How important was it for you to obtain your master’s? How important is it for current dancers or emerging dancers to do the same?
Higher education is very important and I encourage all dancers to obtain a college degree. There is power behind that accomplishment that no one can take away from you. As for obtaining a Master’s, it was important for me because it was a personal goal I set beyond my performance career. Even though I was not sure where my degree would lead me, I knew it would be invaluable for whatever I decided to do. However, I also recognize that there are things I have learned in my personal life that have helped me professionally and it had nothing to do with whether I had a Master’s or not. The degree is the degree. You can get that from anywhere you choose. Now, what you do with that degree…that is real work.
What are similar skill sets you’ve gained as a dancer that helps to propel your current life experiences?
The beauty of improvisation & flexibility and how it can work to your advantage to create something new! One of the things you are taught in your training as a dancer is recovery, particularly from the unexpected. That can range from “I’m not on my leg tonight” [laughing] to “What is the next step?,” or even exiting the stage on the wrong side. But trusting your training and understanding the intent of the work helps you make a creative decision that often presents new opportunities, which has proven to work for me both on and off the stage.
What are your current roles?
Currently, I am the General Management Associate at Harlem Stage, a performing arts center that celebrates and perpetuates the unique and diverse artistic legacy of Harlem and the indelible impression it has made on American culture. I am also the Company Manager for Camille A. Brown & Dancers. I love what I do in both positions and appreciate the platforms each of them set for individual and community growth through their work.
Is it safe to say, your years of experience at Harlem Stage assist your intimate role as a Company Manager at Camille A. Brown & Dancers?
Actually, they have supported one another. There are intricacies about each, but I value the lessons that I’ve learned which have propelled me forward in many ways.
What advice would you give young artists?
Be bold, ask questions, speak up, explore, investigate, push boundaries, and be unpredictable. I know this may seem easier said than done but it is possible. The world is filled with those who will doubt you and you will be exposed to other people’s failures that will cause you to doubt yourself. Just know that doubt is only around to try and Deny, Offend, and Undermine, your ability to be Brilliant and Thrive. So, push forward and soar!