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e if L y M f o s t h ig Highl t t o c S ) e f a r G ( a h t r e By Meda H My name is Meda Hertha (Grafe) Scott. I was born March 6, 1931 during the depression years. Everything was scarce then. We had a 160 acre farm. We planted and grew all our own food along with a cow for beef, a hog for pork, and chicken for frying. No electricity. We cooked on a wood stove and kept our house warm in the winter with a wood heater. We had to cut down many trees to cook everyday. When our garden vegetables ran low, we would go out into the woods and strip leaves off of a plant called Poke Salad, and wild blackberries. It was all very long and hard days of work, but on Sunday we went to church and rested. After lunch, us kids would play games, but the chore of milking cows and feeding animals was an everyday thing. I had a twin sister, two older sisters, and an older brother. My dad painted houses for $1.00 a day. We all had to work hard. I met the man that would be my husband when I was 14 years old. We courted for 2 years, then got married. We had 5 children. 2 boys and 3 girls. We were married 64 years before my husband passed away on April 2, 2013. I loved my children very much. My oldest son 2

Pictured: (Top Right - New house Grandma lived in circa 1930); (Middle Right - Mom, Dad, and Brother in front of house); (Bottom Right: Mom on wagon load of corn stalks pulled by two mules)


Jerry, passed away November 26, 2016. He was blind and at 18 years old he began to lose his hearing. I have prayed a lot in my lifetime. I believe God is our creator and he will give you the strength and courage to overcome and face all your problems and sorrows. We just have to remember to ask him. I am now 90 years and 6 months old. I have been a caregiver for elderly people for many years now, and am thinking about retiring. I just work at my job one day a week now. My children and grandchildren have all grown up to be hard workers at their particular jobs. I have 10 grandchildren, 21 greatgrandchildren, and 1 great- greatgrandchild. I have been wonderfully blessed by God. Alecia Winter Scott is one of my grandchildren. I hope that you enjoyed my story and be grateful for how much technology you have been blessed with. -Meda Scott

Pictured: (Top Right - Sister Annie and Mom at chicken house); (Middle Right - Mule pulling G-Whiz and Brother; (Bottom Right: Our Cows)

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COVERSTORY

STRICTLY: BOSS BABES ACONVERSATIONWITHTHETEAM3XTCO-FOUNDERSALEXKAYE&FERLYPRADO

Before beginning company rehearsal that day, Alecia Winter Scott (Editor-in-Chief; STRICTLY Magazine) meets up with Alex Kaye and Ferly Prado (Team3xT co-founders) for a quick coffee at a nearby shop in Torrance, CA. Suddenly realizing the opportune moment and fleeting chance of getting both Boss Babes in the same place at one time, Alecia sets up her phone to record their conversation:

Alecia Winter Scott: Okay, so how did Team3XT happen? Alex Kaye: Well we, I guess the second one also goes in the first one, but we started, we were in a dance company together in Los Angeles that represents Katherine Dunham and traveled all around Los Angeles and also taught in elementary schools. And then kept crossing paths throughout our professional careers, you know, doing television, I don't know, commercials, live performances. And we actually came together on this like, I don't know, for about a month. Right? The Nike job that was in Puerto Rico. And it was hardcore because it was like an industrial sort of thing, including the like Olympians. So we had to be on point like we were in the gym outside of rehearsals. And like from what I remember when we were there in Puerto Rico, we both were always on the side, like doing extra extra planks, crunches, and like everybody else was just chillin. And me and her were like kind of eyeing each other, like, OK. And Ferly remembered that I had an old company before that was like a heels inspired class.

know, she's like, well, I want to put something together. I love what you're doing with that and I want to create something. So we're like, OK, let's do it! Like, I'm not sure what it was, you know, in the beginning. After that, we kind of brainstormed and, you know, talked again. But then it wasn't until I feel like we were both on the road on tour. We kind of came together in London. You were on the road with Beyonce, I was on the road with Lana Del Rey. And we were like, let's get together. Let's just work out at the gym and, like, just start shooting videos and call it, like “On The Road Workouts.” AWS: That’s cool!

Ferly Prado: Yeah you told me about it. AK: Yeah. Yeah. And she was like, you know, what's happening with that, what are you doing. You know? And I was like, well just from working professionally, you know, I couldn’t put enough time and commit to that. And I let my partner at the time kind of do her thing with it. But, you 5


AK: So it originally started as things that we did on the side, on the road to stay in shape behind, you know, backstage like workouts that we did in the venues, you know, in the hotel rooms on the go that we had to do aside from our live performances, because our bodies got so used to, you know, the movement and the repetition that we needed to think about other ways to, you know, to keep ourselves in shape. So it was this whole concept of like no matter where you are in the world and no matter, you know, if you have just a bed to work with, like you can make it work and you can do these workouts with us. And it started out as that. I don't know how soon after we started teaching. FP: Yeah. Because it started very much fitness based. And then we started realizing, “well, people follow us because

we dance. So maybe we should start to dance.” That would be a good idea. And I think the first time was Shine wasn't it? So she was subbing dance fitness already and I can't even remember if we we're calling it 3xT? We probably were. I'm not sure. I'm not sure. I can't even remember. But we taught a class together the first time we actually went live on Instagram on the road. Then we decided, I think what pushed us to teach a live class was to know who we were talking to. At first we figured our audience were the people that follow these artists, who follow us. And maybe they want to know how we stay in shape. Right? And everything was fitness focused, and later we thought, I mean, maybe they want to dance, right? And so we wanted to teach class because we wanted to see who we were talking to. Because we thought our audience was 18 to 45. And we all know that 18 year olds want something completely different than 40 years olds. So, like, who are we talking to? So we started teaching in person and we quickly realized that our our target group was really women in their 30s. We get 20s, we have 40s. But it's really women in their 30s. Which makes us happy because that's our age. We know the struggles. We know the insecurities. We know the financial hardships. Right? And so we thought it was so perfect that it's not far fetched. It's like, what is it that we would want in a dance class if we walked in? So we started experimenting with that. And covid happened. And it took a turn. And we always wanted to start a performing group. How can we create opportunities to be on stage with women? Instead of just saying, hey, come watch us on stage, it’s come be on stage with us. And after covid we prostituted ourselves. Alecia snorts with laughter while Ferly and Alex chuckle reminiscing on the many videos they created throughout 2020.

We gave everything up for free. I mean, we were on YouTube, we were on Instagram. If there was a website, we were there, you know, giving things for free because we 6


wanted to make sure we showed up for our community like never before. You know, people needed to stay sane at home and no better remedy than dance, at least in our experience. So we wanted to give as much as we could. And I think that pushed us to say, I mean, as soon as 2021 comes, it will be a new reality. So what's the new reality for us? I said, if not now, it's not going to happen. And we needed a push too, with what we wanted to do with 3xT. We felt kind of dormant. We felt kind of flat lined. And so if we're going to take risks, now is the time. Otherwise we're going to go down and this is going to dismantle. And so this was our push too, to take us to the next level, which is the level we wanted to be in. We're always telling people to level up. It's time for us to level up. And it was such a shot in the dark, because we didn't know….. I love how your question was: how did 3xT start? And here we are. Pictured: Right Page: (Top - 1st 3XT Class ever)

Ferly and Alex give Alecia an amused look regarding the extended version of their story so far.

I feel like I covered all the questions. But I feel like it was a shot in the dark because a.) The women we’re talking to, so most of our girls, were losing their jobs. So now we're not only saying, hey, you know, we're not going to be giving out stuff for free, not as much. And by the way, instead of paying fifteen dollars a class now, it's like this whole experience, you know, we're not teaching for fifteen dollars anymore. AK: We had established the value because obviously our background, you know, not only in dancing professionally because you could be a dancer, but that doesn't necessarily make you a great teacher. You know, I mean, we've had experience on both ends through our dance company. We went into elementary schools and we were like out in the fields 7


teaching. You know, it was a different audience, but we were still without experience. Ferly’s been teaching since she was born. So we had our teaching experience and resumes to back us up. And it takes so much to prep for just one class, one 50 minute class, you know what I'm saying? And we also got so much, I think, I don't know, growth too to these studios that we were coming in and teaching as well. So we were just like, OK, we've given so much of ourselves. Now we need to kind of, you know, be on the receiving end on some level. And I know speaking for myself, I also saw this something, you know, this missing piece in classes and in Hollywood dance classes. We saw these people were really, you know, just not intimidated but defeated. Not everybody wants to walk into a dance class at, you know, Millennium or one of those in North Hollywood and be a professional dancer and let alone be on

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camera and make it feel like you're at an audition. And we've been taken away from some real good training and just coming in and training hard with good teachers. And so we saw that, that was missing. We saw the fitness side, the dance fitness side, a little corny, you know, just about calories, just fat burning, not really adding that mental side to it, you know, and even growing in that sort of sense. You know, we wanted to be bigger than that. So that's where we kind of came up with Team3xT. Just coming together and making sure that community was something that was important to us. Connection was important to us. We've been, I think, brought up to think like you can't do everything as a woman, you know what I mean? You have to either have this life or this life and you can't have your career and have your family, too. And you can't pursue your passions and, you know, be married and have kids. And we wanted to break all


those expired sort of ideas. And that's why we created, triple threat. FP: Yes, because triple threat, as you know, in the industry, means you can do it all. And we want women to believe that about themselves, not to create pressure, but to, if anything, to free you. That there is no limiting factors unless you adopt them. So I'm going to try to resume it for you. OK? AWS: OK. The three chuckle with each other as Ferly gathers herself to give an abridged version.

FP: Team3xT was formed. We met at a dance company, Dunnam Dance Company. After that, we developed our professional careers. Our paths kept crossing. We met in Puerto Rico for a Nike job it was a very intense job. As Alex said, we were both extra. She was doing crunches on one side. I was doing booty, and she said, “Hey, you want to work out together?” And from there, she told me about her former program called Stiletto Fit, and she told me her business partner took it to Canada and was doing what she was doing with it. And I said, “How come you didn't keep going with it? Because it sounds like a great idea.” She said, “I just wasn't in the space to dedicate a lot of time for it.” So I said, “listen, I don't know much, but like, if I can help you, I think it's a great idea. I think women need it. I mean, I know how to edit videos. I can help you with that.” You know, I remember saying that to her. I said, “Yeah, we'll come back to L.A. I'll film you and I'll edit and we'll see, you know, where it goes.” And then before we knew it, it's not me filming her, it’s us creating together. And as we told you, we started with fitness, we realized the people following us loved us for our dancing, too. And meeting the two industries, dance and fitness, we looked at what's out there with dance fitness. We say it with all due respect, as professional dancers, as people who have been transformed by dance. It's cheesy what's out there. I shouldn't be Pictured: Left Page: (Bottom - Team 3XT Class); Right Page: (Top Right - Puerto Rico NIKE where 3XT began)

saying the same thing to a 30 year old that I say to a four year old like, “shake your booty.” “You're so cute.” Like, you know what I'm saying? They shouldn't be. We should be able to experience dance as a 30 year old, you know, so let's change lives with it. And so that was the goal with 3xT and 3xT is an abbreviation for triple threat. And it's the concept that women can do it all because that's what we believe. And we want women to believe that they can do it all. That should not be intimidating. That should free you. It should empower you to do whatever you want in your life, because that's what we found, too. Even though we're professional dancers, we find that everything that you learn from dance, you can carry it in any profession that you're in. And that's our goal, is to change our lives professionally and personally. And Alex was adamant about “Team.” I said, “No, just “3xT”. And she’s like, “No Team.” So I gave in, saying, “FINE! Team3xT.” Community was very important for her. So here we are. AWS: Yay! I like that! OK, maybe you did this one. Maybe not. But why 3xT the company? AK: OK, I mean going along with Community, Connection, real training from elite instructors in the business… Again the training that was missing out there was not really hands-on. It was less about the student and more about the choreographer, the teacher, getting the views, getting their recognition, their 9


popularity going. And so what started out as intimate, a couple of us, is now doubled. I still want to maintain that. But I just thought it was really important, because of all the dedication and the time that we do put into the training and the structure of… right now what you're learning, going and getting back to basics, going back to ballet, the foundations and all the things that we did behind the scenes and even training growing up to get to where we're at. I just thought it was really important to have a more committed, sort of structured group and company that would give those individuals that attention that was needed in order to grow. To see their transformation and also crushing those limiting beliefs that being a dancer has an expiration date. We've got so many women coming in and saying, things like, “I just had a baby. I don't know, I can't do that.” Making all these excuses I mean I never thought I'd be dancing past my 30s, I was like, “Oh, I'm never going to but I'm like, still here. I love it.” You know, it's something that obviously, keeps me alive, keeps me inspiring others and so I just wanted to create something like that for everybody else as well. And, you know, we say everyone's a star in their own right. Why should these celebrities be put on these pedestals and only get to

experience these amazing things? Why can't everybody get to experience it? Why can't everybody live out their childhood dreams and shoot music videos and go on these amazing retreats and do concerts together and perform with us? FP: Yeah! I think we were hungry for a community of people that were down for training. Dance is fun, but we were ready to have a community that wasn't just doing it for extracurricular activity, you know what I mean? We were really, really hungry for that. And we wanted to find those people who want authentic and genuine training. That's one. Two: We wanted our girls to have a goal to work towards because we always talked about growth. But if you have something to measure it against it’s much easier to see it right? Instead of just saying, “No girl, you improved it.” They don't know. Because every single week before when they would come to our class, they were doing something different, so they can't tell if they improved or not. We can, but they can't. It was a good opportunity for them to see, what growth looks like as a dancer. But most importantly, in class, we always told them to use their imagination. At the end of the class, we would say, “Imagine you are in front of 70,000 people. You hear the screaming and you have inner ear, inner piece on uh…” AK: In-Ear FP: “In-Ears on because you can't hear otherwise.” All we're asking them is to be children and use your imagination like, you're allowed. Why don't we turn that into reality? So we tell our girls, that's our slogan, “keep your day job and come live your dream with us” so you don't have to become a professional dancer. But instead of watching me and her on stage, be on stage with us! Experience what we've been telling you when we say we get goosebumps; now we want you to get the goosebumps. When we talk about how that person is looking at you and you can tell that they're forgetting their problems

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because they're watching you perform. Don't just imagine it now, be that person on top of the stage looking at the audience. AWS: That's cool!....Let's see! OK, so what inspired focusing on nonprofessional movers as opposed to professional dancers? FP: Well, professional dancers are already living their dreams. And as Alex said, one of our big things is that there is no expiration to your dream. Everyone should have an opportunity to live their dream. And so we found this opportunity, this opening that nobody's tapping into and nobody's giving the nonprofessional love. That's the thing any program like ours, the goal is to turn into a professional. Listen, if you want to book a job, we'll support you, you know, but that is not the goal. The goal is for you to literally live your dream and the dream may change. It may start up like, “Oh, my gosh, we just want to be on stage!” And then once you get a taste of the stage, if you think, “Actually, Ferly and Alex, I want to do this now,” and that's what we expect. We expect a dream to grow. That's what we want. We want the nonprofessionals. The people that are never going to make, most likely are never going to make a living as dancers because they're good at their jobs. And we want them to experience this big world. And selfishly, it's more exciting! Ferly laughs as Alex picks up the next part of their response.

AK: Yeah, there's enough of those opportunities out there as it is. And, you know, as amazing as these shows are that have given us jobs like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, those are kind of setting unrealistic expectations because we shouldn't be competing against each other all the time. And dance isn't about that. So that's also what we wanted to bring it back to. Dance is an expression. It's a universal language. Everybody in the world, I think thrives off of music. That's the one thing that they do

have to come together and celebrate. And so that's just something that we saw was missing. So why not fill that void. Alecia chimes in for an excited interjection:

AWS: Yeah! Also, pause for a sec. That is like word for word, what I said in my interview in Strictly, was that we shouldn't be competing against each other. AK: Yeah! There's enough for everybody. AWS: It's fun to have healthy competition. AK: That’s right! AWS: What strategies do you use to ensure the company's success? FP: Use the girl's strengths. So our number one priority is to recognize who's in the 11


room, get to know each woman as much as they want us to know them and play off of their strengths, not hide their weaknesses, because the weaknesses can always either stay weaknesses, right? We all have our weaknesses that stay with us until the day we die. And we all have weaknesses that become strengths. But yeah, play off of their strengths. Some girls are really strong leaders. Some girls are really strong lovers. Some girls are really strong supporters. So wherever they are, we ensure we use them because, the number one thing that's important in anything that you do with humanity is the connection. We have to make sure we connect from a very genuine, how do you say it, in a very genuine way. And me and Alex can't do that alone. If we have 40 women in the room, we need help. So, yeah, our strategy is actually to live by our only prerequisite, and that is that you cannot be an asshole. So if you're not an asshole, we accept you and then show us your strengths because we're going to use it. AK: Yeah and right off the bat, we don't require auditions. Maybe we'll get to that one day but we make it open for everybody. And then we create a really good support system, because we do allow these other platforms to communicate, for the girls to talk to one another, for the girls to come to us and we also express that communication is everything, you know? We have our standards, we have our code of conduct, but we are, I think, welcoming sort of women. And we you know, some may be a little nervous to talk to us at first, but I think we provide a very good open kind of... What is it called,? A platform for you to come to us and just talk to us about what's going on, you know what I mean? And what are these blockages that are happening? It's not always about the steps. Like, steps are the minimal issues. FP: And a third thing, too, is showing up as professionals. We are leading this team, right? As much as we depend on the girls’ 12

strengths and them building the community alongside us, we need to be the example. So if we're showing up in the room: full out. If we’re showing up in the room: professionally. Are we prepared? Do we apologize when we are wrong? All of that comes into account, right? Yeah, accountability. When we ask you to do something, do it. There's a reason for it. You have the option not to do it because you're an adult. Nobody's going to spank you, but you have the option. But when we ask something of you, and our girls have learned to trust us, it’s not to be annoying, it’s not to just fill your calendar because we already know it's full, it’s literally with an intention in mind. So I think more and more they're learning our leadership is good and strong. And so, yeah, for us, it is very important to lead by example. AWS: What are the benefits of being in a dance company like 3xT? AK: The number one I know that we weren't even expecting? I don't think we thought of it. Something that naturally happened. Also, I know we can take some credit for it, but is the sisterhood that is across the board. FP: Real! AK: Yeah, like we could, you know, be friends with everybody at the end of the day, but the connection, the community, the whole group of women that you never thought you would be friends with are now friends and supporting one another. Um, confidence. FP: Confidence is huge. It's a number one thing we hear from the girls, that their confidence and self-esteem has grown a lot. And we're not surprised when you really dive into dance and what it has to give, that's exactly what it’ll give back to you, right? If you invest yourself in it, if you trust it; I always say, “If you let yourself go like you were about to belly flop in a pool, do that with dance and you'll see what it would do for you.” The confidence is huge.


Community is one. She said, confidence is another. And third is if you care about dance, if you care about growing as a dancer, this is the place to be. And I say that with humility. And again, it's because of the authentic training. We were hungry for a group of people that wanted the authentic training not just to come in and burn calories and see you next week. So, yeah, these girls are improving. They have videos. We have them do homework. And they have videos to see it - January until now! Look at your improvement. It is something that they can walk away with and know that that was their work. They sweat for that. They did that. Yeah, we were their accountability, but they did that. And that always feels good.

AWS: Yay! Well, then since this is the group interview, what are you guys grateful for?

AWS: Yeah! Weeeeeee! Okay. Last one. Where do you want to see Team3xT Dance Company in the future?

FP: But, seriously, we are so grateful to have you with us!

Ferly immediately jumps in with:

AK: Oh, I love this! FP: Aw! I'm grateful for you joining the 3xT Dance Company! How about that? AK: Right!? AWS: Aw Thank you! AK: I had no idea, either, that that one Lana Del Rey challenge would lead to this! FP: It’s amazing! AWS: Me either, honestly!

The girls sip their coffees and enjoy the remaining few minutes of sun-filled bliss on the patio before heading to the rehearsal studio.

FP: Japan. Everywhere! AK: Yeah, internationally! FP: Every continent! Everywhere. But we'll start with the United States. Yeah, everywhere. Yeah. Our goal in the future… Next year I would love to be in a third city; the year after that, in two more cities. And, you know, we just want to plant our seeds everywhere because again, dance should not be limited to California. We're here, but we're going to get scrappy and we're going to get creative and find out ways to still make you feel like Ferly and Alex are training you, even if you're in Kentucky or Arkansas, Alecia! Alecia and Ferly laugh together about the Arkansas motif present throughout their interview.

AK: Accessible across the board, pretty much because we do know we're only two of us. But at the same time, we know we have some followers in Brazil, and overseas so as accessible as we can make it. And as we build our team, that's the goal. 13


COMMUNITY EDITORIALSPT.I 14


I AM GRATEFUL FOR… This piece is called "The Land of Lost Loves and Stolen Suns" - it depicts a world in which lost items and memories go. Things that are missed from the past and have no way of returning to the present go to stay here, they are safe and loved but can no longer be touched. Gratitude is a large part of this piece because the painting is about the love I once had for these lost things. I am grateful to once have had them even though I can no longer see them. - Allie Lazar Instagram l Website

After losing my mother and father due to smoking related cancers in 2013, I became grateful for time. Time to honor their memory, time to create, time to mourn, time to reflect on Memento mori and Memento vivere. My hand cut paper sculptures mend emotional wounds and reflect on the beautiful scars we collectively share as a society. - Charles Clary Website

"Big, Stupid, and Tacky" November 2020 Abstract Acrylic and Mixed Media Painting on 30” by 40” stretched canvas. Features designer/ boutique paints and materials to achieve a polished, fun, and perfectly tacky look. Culture Hustle Mirror paint, resin, Swarovski Crystals, and more. This painting is a shameless, frank, and confident expression of individuality and freedom. While completely abstract, the contrasting colors, sharp yet friendly forms, and shining effects represent personal growth and a lack of fear. Speaking both of personal experiences and relations in the world of contemporary art, creatives navigate the ups and downs of expression, rejection, and recovery. "Big, Stupid, and Tacky" is an announcement to the viewer that this cycle leads to personal growth and betterment, a phenomenon all people are grateful for. This large-scale painting serves as an homage to well-earned freedom, individuality, and self-love. - Shayla Nolan Instagram l Website

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FAMILY Rosemarie.tyg is a project that expresses gratitude of family, heritage, and cooking through a series of photos. It is a project that preserves my fond memories of my mother's cooking through documenting and archiving through a series of imaging processes within a book. Description: Rosemarie.tyg is a project named after my mother. It is a response to the insufficiency of documentation. A treasury of food, plating, amusement, + memories in my home. And an interpretation of environment. This project presents a series of images and image-making using a collection of photos taken within my household. These photos are documentations of food and the time spent around the food such as cooking, talking, eating, shopping, and plating. Images are presented on materials found around my home. The image-making involves ink-jet printing, chlorophyll printing, stickers, ink transfers, scans, and general photography. Full project can be viewed on rosemarietyg.archerda.com or archerda.com/RTYG.html - Archerd Aparejo Instagram l Website

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LOVE I was single for three years. Three years of trying to be patient and slowly giving up that there was a person for me. Determined to not meet a man online, I met a man online, but not in the way I expected. A brother of my sister's good friend (who lived in Montana), met my sister and she showed him my Instagram. He reached out while in town, and I never saw it. We slowly started talking more and more, falling for each other without ever officially meeting in person. Four months later I flew to Montana and my life hasn't been the same. The gratitude I have for my sister, for God for having a plan for me even when I didn't believe it anymore, and for this man who has forever changed my life, is immense. Patience actually does pay off, and when you let yourself heal and wait for YOUR time, beautiful things happen. You can find love and true happiness. - Brittany Lawrence Instagram l Website Sunflowers Four months of anticipation packed into a carry-on. 30 years of life and I’d never flown alone. I swear my heart was beating louder than the roar of the engines as we touched down. My knees weak and nervous, my mouth dry from my mask. The world was falling apart, but I just wanted to fall into you. The descend of the escalator, Lord please don’t let me fall. I could see you, cowboy boots, the sunflowers bright in your hand, my favorite. You wrapped your free arm around me, strong but gentle, and we kissed for the first time. It took everything in me not to melt into a puddle on the floor. A trade, flowers for my bag, my hand in yours, and the wonder of whether the moment was even real as we walked to your Jeep. You opened my door. The brief moment to myself, as you put my bag in the back, might have been the first breath I took since you stole it away. Door closed behind you, my face is in your hands, your lips on mine. You pulled back and smiled and I could see my future in your eyes.

Grateful I’ve been lucky in the love that’s come my way And the friends I’ve made are the kind of friends who stay Some are with me now and some have travelled on Their love is with me yet though they have gone And I’m grateful For the love that will not die I’m grateful As years go slipping by I’m grateful To be able to sing this song My gratitude to you is ever strong There are times when my loneliness has won And others where you were the only one To lift me up and make me smile again I can’t tell you what it means to have a friend And I hope that I have done the same for you Made you better when you were feeling blue Acting like a fool to make you smile You showed me how to go that extra mile Song: GRATEFUL, by Cathy Fink & Tom Paxton (©2 Spoons Music ASCAP/ Bristow Songs, SESAC)

Dedicated to Grace Griffith - Cathy Fink Website

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COMMUNITY Isabelle and the Magic Bird is a children's book where a child who is grateful for the world she has grown up in is determined to heal the land and change the polluted future of a park she's visiting. When I wrote and illustrated this, I identified with Isabelle on a personal level. I am lucky to have grown up in a relatively clean and safe environment. I relished in the summer blossoms perfuming my neighborhood's air and I remember countless hours playing soccer in the summer on enormous fields of swaying grass. From my summers in Hong Kong, I know that I am very lucky to have grown up in such a spacious and healthy environment. But I can't just enjoy all of this without doing something to address the looming threat to the earth. Isabelle and the Magic Bird is how I educate the future generation about why we need to care about the effects of climate change and pollution. It offers a solution and demonstrates to children that they have agency. This book ended up being a #1 New Release in Children's US State & Local History Books and Children's Exploration History Books on Amazon. It was ranked a #4 New Release in Children's Environment and Ecology Books. It was a #8 Bestseller in Children's US State & Local History Books and a #13 Bestseller in Children's Exploration History Books.

- Charlotte Yeung Instagram l Website l Book

In times like these; quarantine, uncertainty of death, depression and social isolation the thought of being in a warm place with friends feels like a homecoming. People would be grateful to see each other and be close for a moment. The piece depicts a group of girls in a room having a house party. The other is a group of girls walking around town during a festival. The freedom of which a lot of us wish to have again. - Laylah Muhammad El Instagram l Website 18


LIFE Persephone rises from the underworld, bringing the world back to life with her annual return in the springtime. She is my muse. When I was a teenager, I was diagnosed with lupus and kidney failure, which entangled me in issues of mortality while my peers were enjoying the excitement of their changing lives. Decades later, after years on dialysis and three kidney transplants, I'm healthy enough not only to enjoy my life but to focus full time on my art. One of the subjects that surfaces again and again is my memory of my first transplant in 1981. (Transplant success was far from where it is today.) It was mind-blowing! It felt like a true miracle. I went to sleep, was wheeled into an operating room, and several hours later my life had completely changed. I had no idea how sick I was until I woke up and felt absolutely fantastic!!! I got to experience this miracle again in my 30s and in my 50s with two more transplants. I try to express the indescribable feeling in all my paintings with a whirl of movement, celebration and new beginnings that capture the miraculous way that my own life has restarted again and again. In this painting, Persephone bursts into life after being Queen of the Dead bringing spring, new life, light, warmth and joy with her.

- Cindy Ruskin Instagram l Website

When I paint, I constantly revisit my gratitude for my existence -- expressed for me by the magical worlds I create.

After my 60th birthday, I was inspired to learn to paint because of a primordial moment at midnight with my daughter and grandchildren. We watched a sea turtle come ashore to nest on the same beach where she was born, as they have done since dinosaurs roamed the earth. I was overwhelmed with this universal thread that was connecting me, my grandchildren, this mama turtle and all living things throughout time. We found her tracks the next morning, and I decided I must document them to show we were grateful to share in her journey. Now I take photos of tracks left in the sand, and turn them into abstract paintings. Each painting is specific to one mama’s track, like this one, Solivagant, found on 8/8/17 at 8:14 a.m. - Diane V. Radel Website

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BEAUTY “The Black Gaze” consists of work from my ongoing series “Idealism,” a series in which I confront previously held ideas and repurpose them for today’s standards. Although the images come from different shoots and concepts alike, the one consistency I like to highlight across all my works is the eyes of my subjects. It is within the eyes that I feel that the idea of gratitude comes to life. Not only do the subjects of my works present a layer of transparency but it is within this transparency that you can gauge their innocence and vulnerability. That being said, I always like to highlight black women in this light due to the nurturing role that they have played in my upbringing and day to day life. It directly contrasts this hardened image that society places upon them and it is for this reason that I believe these works fit the theme of “gratitude.” It is a gratitude towards the essence of black women but it is also gratitude that they exhibit within the works. - Daniel Leka Instagram l Website

Piece #1: “Business Casual” Model: Lihem Russom “Business Casual” is an ambiguously defined Western dress code that is generally considered casual wear but with smart (in the sense of “well dressed”) components of a proper lounge suit from traditional informal wear, adopted for white-collar workplaces. This interpretation typically including dress shirt, necktie, and trousers, but worn with an odd-coloured blazer or a sports coat instead.

Piece #2: “{DIS}connect” Model: Aminata Diop dis/dis/ prefix 1. expressing negation. con·nect /kəˈnekt/ verb 1. bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established. dis·con·nect /ˌdiskəˈnekt/ verb 1. break the connection of or between. noun 1. a discrepancy or lack of connection. 20


Piece #3: “The Purloined Letter” Model: Nia Marshall Makeup: Joy Paulk “The Purloined Letter” is a short story by American author Edgar Allan Poe. It is the third of his three detective stories featuring the fictional C. Auguste Dupin, the other two being “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” These stories are considered to be important early forerunners of the modern detective story. It first appeared in the literary annual The Gift for 1845 (1844) and soon was reprinted in numerous journals and newspapers.

Piece #4: “Good Days” Model: Ava Mone’t Stylist: Tiffany Lupien “Good Days” is a song by American singer SZA featuring additional vocals by Jacob Collier. It was released on December 25, 2020, through Top Dawg and RCA, and is expected to serve as the second single on her upcoming second studio album. “Dubbed a “nostalgic track”, “Good Days” sees SZA singing about “former love, soul searching, and rejoicing carefreely” over “guitar-tinged riff plays”, while she makes use of her “dreamy vocals”. The song “manages to hit much more of a melodic, narrative-driven tone that puts it more in line with her CTRL output.”

Piece #5: “Field Of Dreams” Model: Amara Richardson Field of Dreams is a 1989 American sports fantasy drama film written and directed by Phil Alden Robinson, adapting W. P. Kinsella's 1982 novel Shoeless Joe. The film stars Kevin Costner as a farmer who builds a baseball field in his cornfield that attracts the ghosts of baseball legends, including Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the Chicago Black Sox; Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster (in his final film role) also star. It was theatrically released on May 5, 1989.

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COVERSTORY

STRICTLY: BOSS BABES A CONVERSATION WITH CO-FOUNDER ALEX KAYE, AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALECIA WINTER SCOTT

L.T. Martinez (Publisher; CASA ALTA LLC) and Timothy Lewis (Photographer; Haus of Lanier LLC) are scuttling around behind recording equipment to finalize the set up of our interview space. Jessica Cogburn (makeup artist; @dazzlewithbrazil), gives our interviewee, Alexandria Kaye (Team 3xT), some final touch-ups after an incredible few hours of action-packed photoshoot moments. The scene is set and we’re rolling:

Alecia Winter Scott: Alex! Thanks for joining us today. You are amazing as a mover, and a groover, and as a person; you are such a bright light and we are so happy that you’re letting us interview you for our Gratitude issue! Alex Kaye: Thank you for having me! AWS: So, our first question to get us going: what is your background in dance? AK: I started when I was five years old. My mother was my first dance teacher; she’d already established herself and taught a lot of other girls at an early age. When you’re young you start doing ballet, tap, jazz, a little bit of everything, just to see what you actually enjoy doing. Here in Los Angeles, I started at Catnap – I don’t think it’s there anymore – then I went to the American Dance Factory and we started doing competitions as I got older. Versatility was really important to ADF, so they made sure you got a little bit of everything. From there, my mom thought I still had some

energy I needed to get out, so she registered me in rhythmic gymnastics. I was kind of [already] doing a little bit of both; rhythmic comes from ballet and [dance] technique, so she thought it was the safer thing to put me in and develop me even more as a dancer. And then I pursued it professionally! AWS: Your whole life… As a kid did you ever have a specific style of dance that you liked doing? AK: That’s a good one… As a kid, I guess tap, because it was unapologetic. You make as much noise as you want; it’s original, you’re hearing the sounds and rhythms that you can create, so it was fun for me as a child. Over time, hip-hop became my number one because of the freedom and versatility and how far it’s taken me in my career. AWS: Tell us what inspired you to pursue dance as a career. A lot of kids start dancing and it's just a way to get their energy out – so, what kept you going? What made you think, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life?” AK: I mean, I had a lot of inspiration, I think multiple people, but number one would have to be my father. He is an artist himself. He is still a working musician today. He plays piano, tours, and travels. He kind of set an example for me about how far you can go. Both my parents, really; they were very supportive in pursuing this dream of mine. It wasn't really supported by friends and, kind of, “outsiders.” You know, when you ask people's opinion, they just want what's best for you… But it’s kind of an old idea that “being a dancer is not going to last that long; you won’t make any money.”

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Seeing firsthand my father's journey – he was away a lot because he was in the studio, and creating, and on tour – he was never resentful. So coming home, I always got the best of him, and I could go see him perform on stage. I met other artists and grew up surrounded by such great influencers in the music industry. That wasn't a crutch that I used to push me to get me where I am at all – it's a completely different world, you know – but at the same time, it just really showed me what the possibilities were and inspired me to follow what [I’m] passionate about at the end of the day. I'm so grateful to have that support because I know that not a lot of people have that as well. Sorry, that got real deep. AWS: Don’t apologize. We like that! I feel like it's hard, but it's better, to follow your dreams and what you are passionate about because you are going to be more fulfilled at the end of the day – even if you are struggling through it, it makes you a harder worker. AK: To go along with that, I actually wanted to make sure dance was something that I really loved and wanted to pursue. I did step away [from dance] in high school. I tried other sports, other activities. I was a cheerleader, I did track; [it was] really just to know, “Okay, is dance my love, do I want to do it for me? Or is it just something that was obviously laid out for me as a child to do?” I wanted to decide for myself, so I took a moment to step away and make Pictured: Left Page: (Bottom Left - Dance Class) Right Page: (Top Left - Little Alex and Dad); (Top Right - Alex and Dad)

sure it was something that I actually missed. I knew I was good at it, had potential, but [in the end] I realized I did love escaping to the dance studio, performing, and all that stuff! AWS: Did you always plan on going the commercial route or did you ever want to do concert dance and repertoire or theater? AK: I thought about it, to be honest. I wanted to explore as much as possible. But, you know, being born and raised here in Los Angeles, [the commercial path] was just kind of provided and given to me. I was in the right place. I grew up here. I love to be around my family, my friends. I had to travel at a young age to compete in gymnastics; L.A. has always been my home and where I saw the most professional opportunities for me. In the back of my head, I still kind of want to pursue theatre one day in New York. I’ve gotten a nice taste of performing and rehearsing out there, a couple of other jobs and everything, but L.A. was just kind of a given, you know. AWS: That's really cool. Your career has taken you to a lot of incredible places with a lot of different artists. Do you have a few specific artists that have inspired you a lot along the way? AK: Yes, definitely. It’s really the choreographers, the people behind the artists, that are the reason and the biggest 25


influencers and inspirations [for me]. But [as for] artists... It's a tough one, because I get so much from so many different ones. I would have to say... Work ethic, overall performance and vocal range, the hard core commitment and training – oh my God, I’m probably going to go back and be like, “Wait, what about this one?” – but I would have to say Usher. He was that one artist and dancer you strive to perform with. The quality and the level of his performances... If you’ve ever seen his show, he sings live, he dances, he does every step, he really practices his craft. He's not just somebody that shows up whenever he wants. He puts in the hours inside and outside of the studio and, you know, just [his] musicality overall I think was an amazing influence. Like I said, there's a lot to choose from, but overall with how I’ve grown as a dancer, performer, everything that came with it. From the choreographers, dancers, the discipline that came with it and the growth I had from that [experience], I have to say Usher. AWS: Going back to the choreographers: I'm sure your mom is one of your biggest inspirations, but, aside from her, is there anybody in the industry (choreographer-wise) that you look up to and really like the way that they’ve paved choreography for everybody in L.A. – or anywhere else in the world? AK: He doesn't know he’s my mentor, but I see him as a mentor, and I spent so many years with him in a global group… Aside from being a dancer and an artist himself, I would say Richard Jackson. I think he is just incredible in the sense that he stays true to himself. He is always kind of out-of-the-box. He works with creatives that allow themselves to be true artists and not just follow the path that's laid out for them. He knows who he is as a choreographer. He's experienced the world as a dancer – as a successful dancer at that – being in that field, then transitioning over to choreography and directing. The growth that I had being in the room with him... As a woman, learning to stand in my power and really come out of my shell; I think he's my number one also. AWS: Do you have a desire to do that as well? Transfer into the choreographic world? AK: I love to be more, like... The Movement Director. It all overlaps. That’s not really the 26

passion I strive to pursue. I can; I think a lot of dancers have that capability, especially with the key experiences they have, [it’s] kind of the next thing [many] transition to – that or being actors and actresses. But what I’m really passionate about is sharing my experience and passing it down. So, [I enjoy] teaching other people who may not have had that same access, or may not think that they are capable of pursuing a career, or who are afraid of just stepping into a dance class. I really enjoy being of service in that kind of sense. AWS: Do you have any examples of artists that you've shared that experience with? Ones that maybe don't think that they could be a mover? AK: The transformation with the women in our company [Team 3xT] who are not professionals has been amazing. And aside from them, I mean, the first person that I think of is Lana Del Rey. I’ve seen her grow so much from when I first started working with her to now. And the confidence that she's gained just from even something as little as feeling your own body. There's this sort of hesitation that we, as women, sometimes feel – like we can't be


sexy or that you reach a certain age and you can't feel that way. You can't show that [kind of] confidence because it might be taken the wrong way. But with her, I really have seen a transformation – not to say she didn't have any of that before, because she’s amazing and has taught me so much. But just in terms of movement, you'll see some stuff that we do on stage; she stays in her subtle but graceful way, but she flaunts it. We play around and have fun. At the end of the day, it's not that serious! We all support each other on stage. That's what the beauty is in it. AWS: I've seen her shows since before you guys came onto the stage with her, and, as a Lana fan myself, her [visible] transformation has been a powerful blossoming. She’s a butterfly. She's always been beautiful to watch and then – when she added you and Ashley to the stage with her – you can tell that she feels more comfortable being up there. She's so talented, so there's no reason [for her] to be nervous, but sometimes artists can’t help it – especially when that many people are staring at you.

Pictured: Left Page: (Top Right - Usher) Right Page: (Bottom - Lana Del Rey Tour)

AK: Getting nervous shows that you care – that’s a good thing at the end of the day. When you stop getting nervous, that’s maybe something to think about. I’m happy that you shared that with me. It’s empowering, right? That’s our job as dancers, as backup singers, is to really support and be like, “You're not out there alone. We’ve got you.” In front of tens of thousands of people, and it's a lot of pressure, especially if it's being televised or being broadcast. All eyes are on you, so that's why the band, the dancers, the singers are there; it's for the artist. Not to take away their shine; we’re all just happy to be there together. It sounds corny, but you know what I mean? We're just there to bring this artist's vision to life and to tell the story. Inspirational. AWS: I like that you said that because that’s such a positive way of looking at it. I feel like there are some people in the industry, the acting industry or the dancing or singing industry, that it's not necessarily their time in the spotlight, but they try to make it their time. So I like that you say that because, [for] certain jobs, that’s what you are hired to do and you

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still love it like it’s your show. It makes the whole experience way better. Everyone's having a good time in what they’re doing, and that’s great. AK: Yeah and, when the time is your time to move on, then you just leave gracefully and that’s it! AWS: Since you've done tours and other projects like music videos and ads, is there any place that a job has brought you that was super life changing? AK: Oh, my goodness. I have a couple. I would say when I traveled to Africa for Chris Brown – just because I faced a lot of fears in that experience. We spent a lot of time there. We went to Johannesburg, Cape Town, which was gorgeous; absolutely amazing. When you're on tour, it's a job. People are like, “Oh, you get to go over to these amazing places,” but you don't get to see a lot of it. I mean, you're lucky if you get a day off, like one day off, and you're lucky if you have time in between to stay, explore, and see where you're actually at. So, Africa… I got to go in the streets and shopping markets; bartering and stuff like that. I saw one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I went great white shark diving, which was a big, popular, touristy thing there at the time. See, you go two hours out on a boat… and you go there like, “Oh, we probably won't see anything. They’re an endangered species.” And you push yourself under water inside of the cage that's hanging on the actual boat, so it's not really… I don't know – it's not the safest. But again, it was just like, “No. I want to do something crazy that I've never done before, and I won’t get a chance to do this again.” I spent maybe two minutes under the water, saw a seven foot shark and I was like, “Okay, yeah, I'm good! On to the next; never again.” The room bursts out in laughter at the thought of meeting such a terrifying fish.

AK: Things like that, really seizing the opportunity to do things that you will never get a chance to do again, and sightseeing where you're at, if you have a chance to. Some dancers on the road just kind of stay in their hotel. You're exhausted half the time, so you gotta have that extra fire to get yourself up and out to really take in the culture and experience everything. Also, just to have a


better show too, right? You want to know a little bit about who's watching you in the audience. And you can kind of allow that to shine too. AWS: Do you think traveling somewhere because of your work puts you in a different mindset to see the sights there and experience things than if you choose to go there for vacation? AK: Of course, yeah. With that actual job, we were asked to stay in Nigeria as well. And that's, you know, you're either… you're either very rich or you're very poor there. There are no middle grounds. So, we've seen the best of the best, and also the worst of the worst. Allowing yourself to be open to that. When you go somewhere on vacation, you want to obviously enjoy yourself. We did Lollapalooza, for example, in Brazil. I have friends there, so they took me around the town and showed me the reality of things. It's just very eyeopening, and it makes you really understand the things that we live beyond our means for half the time. I appreciated coming home and being grateful for the life we live [here]. Knowing that giving back in your own backyard is important, and so is giving back globally, if you can. AWS: Thank you for sharing that. Since you've been on tour a lot – with groups from anywhere between you and one other dancer, to you and dozens of people – is there one that you think you benefit from more? Smaller groups of dancers or bigger groups; or one that's more fun? AK: Yeah, I mean… I really don't know! You can say, when you have a bigger cast of dancers, like we had at the Super Bowl, having that energy, of course, is a thrilling, once-in-alifetime, sort of experience. Having more bodies, more personalities; that was one of the largest casts of dancers I’ve performed with on stage. It's a huge platform; over, like, 70 million viewers – I don’t even know the amount. That specific team was a group that had worked together before, so they were kind of like a family. That job was really kind of sentimental to me because it was with Richard Jackson; he brought together all these people that he had worked with over the years for Lady Gaga to feel her best self and feel the most comfortable in this monumental Pictured: Left Page: (Top Left - South Africa); (Middle Left - Gdańsk, Poland With Lana and Ash); (Bottom Left - Arabian Nights Village) Right Page: (Top Right - Super Bowl with Lady Gaga)

performance. That energy was just ridiculous. We had seven minutes to, like, run out, do our performance. It all happened so fast. But obviously such an amazing experience to share that with that many people… I’m not really answering your question very well. There's positives in a smaller group, too. Dancing with Lana for a couple of years now… Being on the road can be very lonely. You miss birthdays and relationships can kind of struggle with the distance. I missed one of my best friend's weddings. So, having that really close group to have a deeper connection with, feels like you do have your family on the road. You can't really replace that [experience], too, so... I can’t really choose one, to be honest. AWS: There’s positives to both. AK: Exactly! AWS: Is there anybody you keep crossing paths with that – maybe – you do a job [together] and you're like, “Oh yeah, we totally vibe,” and then you go your separate ways, meet again down the road and you’re like “Oh my God, hey!” AK: Oh, yeah. It happens a lot in the industry. Ferly, who you’re going to talk to next, my business partner and friend; that's someone. We connected and were instantly like, “Okay, we've got to do something [together] outside of this world.” We were in a dance company 29


together in Los Angeles; we performed and taught at elementary schools. Eventually, we both left the company on our own time to pursue more commercial dance experiences, but then we kept crossing paths. And we created a whole ‘nother thing out of that! AWS: Do you think that the idea of Team3XT came about because you both had similar ideas that you kept bouncing off each other? Or, were you guys friends first and throwing ideas together knowing you wanted to create something together? AK: We did a Nike job. It was so much fun, it was in Puerto Rico. It’s called an “Industrial;” it was just for corporate people at their year-end thing to promote the brand and to show to their employees. It was surrounded by the Olympics. So we had to learn different sports like volleyball, track, sports modeling, and also dance! During this time, we were like, “We're going to be on stage with the Olympic athletes! We need to be in tip-top shape.” Outside of dance rehearsals, all the dancers were in the gym doing extra hours, like, just to be their best selves. So we were also kind of

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eyeing each other off to the side, doing planks and extra things – because when you're a dancer your body gets used to the routines so you have to switch it up for serious results. You have to track it to make sure you keep that stamina up and keep your physique maintained. Me and her are just like each other. We're the closest friends on the job, and she actually approached me because I had another business venture before (Stiletto Fit) so she knew that I had this side-hustle that I was doing. She was like, “What's going on with that?” I was like, “Well, my business partner at the time moved back with her family in Vancouver,” and all that. So it wasn't my main focus. She said, “Let's talk, let's do something. Let’s try to create something else.” We just saw a need for something different; something more exciting in the fitness world, something that’s catered to the nonprofessional dance world. Team3XT is nowhere near where it started [compared to] where it is now.


AWS: That’s so cool! If you were to ask Little Alex, would you say that you are living the dream? AK: Oh, my God. For you, I actually have something really funny. Can I grab it real quick? AWS: Yes! Alex hustles over to her bag to pull out a hand-drawn, construction paper pamphlet.

AK: So, my mom is always cleaning up the garage and stuff, and she's like, “Oh, look what I found!” And so, this is a – I don't know what kind of – you know... recycle situation project, I guess. But this is my Wish Book. I don't know if I was five or six or something. The first question, the statement is: “I wish that I was...dot, dot, dot,” and this is my answer. AWS: A dancer on the stage! AK: And this is the second question: “I wish I could be... a singer.” The last one hasn’t happened yet, I hope it happens one day... Also, “I wish I had a horse.” AWS: Yes! I was a horse girl, too! AK: It was just funny because I know that words are powerful and meditations are powerful; I’ve witnessed it. But just to see this, what I did as a little girl and my mom just recently found it, dusted it off and was like, “Just so you know, you dreamed of these things and they kind of came true.” AWS: That’s so sweet! The universe does provide. You have to speak it into existence, and then it will happen. I love it! Okay, just a few more questions... Other than dance, when you find yourself thinking “Dang, I haven’t booked a job in a little bit,” what do you do to keep yourself busy that’s not going to let you think about the negative parts of these artistic careers that we have chosen? AK: I have allowed myself to remain a student. Not just between jobs, but I’ve gone back to school a million times, and I also stay really active in the fitness industry. Any big convention that comes up provides an amazing platform to educate yourself on all different styles of fitness revenue. I got my certifications in fitness and in yoga. I've gone on retreats. Traveling is a huge part of Pictured: Left Page: (Bottom - Alex Kaye and Ferly Prado) Right Page: (Top Right - Alex Kaye in class)

grounding myself, so any chance I get to travel and explore and learn something new. I’ve done Acro-Yoga workshops in Bali, for example; I’ve taken Spanish classes in Barcelona. I definitely cannot just, like, run around, go out, and party, but things that I can bring back with me, and develop myself with to show up as a better teacher. Along with that, I taught at a local fitness studio. So when I come back, I'm not like, “What the heck just happened?” If I just came from a Lollapalooza or something… It is kind of like a crazy feeling; it’s a high that you experience… You come back and you're like, “What do I do now? What's going to even compare to that? What's going to give me that same feeling?” To answer your question: I would come back and I would teach. I love practicing yoga. I go to my local yoga studio. I have a small circle of friends that are very positive in my life and we make sure that we all uplift each other; that we continue to be children at the end of the day. Go to the beach, ride skates, little things like that. Keep that spirit up. AWS: Is there a specific thing that drives you to success? A mindset or a specific person or goal? AK: I hope to obviously make my parents proud; especially my mom, you know. Parents sacrifice – I know my parents sacrificed so much – and they obviously want the best for their kids, and kids desire the day where they can say to their parents, “You did a good job. I'm good. You don't have to worry about me. I can keep a roof over my head. I can feed myself.” 31


I think my parents and my family are a big, big part of that. My sister, she has two boys – my two nephews – and I just want to be able to put money into their education and really help them have the best future that they can have… at least, until I have my own little ones one day. My family drives me. And, like I said, they’ve been supportive since day one and always allowed me that freedom. That’s the main thing. AWS: Last thing, since our theme is gratitude, we want to know: What is one thing that you are thankful for that your craft has given you? AK: Hm, I would say… in this business it can be a roller coaster of emotions and you either stay on a positive path or go down a negative one. I think resilience is something that my experience has definitely given me. You have to keep showing up in this industry, and for life in general. Don’t allow failure or no’s or other people’s influence on you to steer you in a different direction. I think resilient, tough skin is something I’m really grateful for. Not taking anything personal at the end of the day and knowing that you are enough and you have something to offer. It might not be for everybody, but you know what? That’s okay. AWS: I love that. Yay! Thank you Alex, we loved having you, and your shoot was woohoo fire! Jessica Cogburn: That was amazing to listen to. And I hope that you know that you deserve every bit of success that comes your way. Your heart is gold and it radiates around you. AK: Thank you! I’m gonna cry! JC: I’m serious! It was awesome to hear what you had to say. And you are so beautiful on the outside but that’s just your inside magnified. AK: Oh my gosh! Can you bring her to everything? JC: I really mean it! AWS: I like that you said be a child. Because I go to the beach all the time by myself or with, like, one friend and I just play in the sand. This one time, I was pretending I was a mermaid by myself and this little girl says, “That looks like fun. Can I play?” So I say, “Sure!” So we are playing and she is following me like we're pretending to do stuff. Then Jamie Fox walks 32

up and says, “Oh, my God, I'm so sorry my daughter's bothering you.” And I was like, “Oh no, she’s not bothering me at all!” And he was like, “Oh, okay, well is it okay if she plays with you?” And I said, “Yeah of course!” Don’t mind me just playing mermaids and pretending I am a seal with Jamie Fox’s daughter! AK: Okay, but can you share that, please? Like, tell me you got this! L.T. Martinez: Oh, absolutely! AK: See that's the thing. You never know who’s watching! AWS: I’m over here just being a mermaid! AK: There's nothing wrong with that. And that’s what it's all about. AWS: I mean, I will actively go to the playground just to go swing by myself. AK: I mean, that's why I'm also so happy that you're going to do this upcoming quarter with us; the next little journey and be a part of the dance company. Because it’s like why do you have to put an age cap on it? It’s like you say, “I love to dance. I love to watch you dance.” So, here is your open door. You are invited and you are welcome. People adore you, and you shouldn't be intimidated or feel like it's not a possibility. I'm just so excited! AWS: I’m excited too! I'm just like a goofball, though. You are going to see me make all these faces that I make at myself. AK: But you have to try right? I mean even the fact that you cut your hair – because you said, “I hide behind my hair.” That was another thing the choreographer for Usher had said: “Stop using your hair for everything.” You know that's the go-to – being a girl, for you to use your feminine side. But he was like, “Nope. Not gonna work here.” You’ve gotta hit the moves and keep up with the guys; show that aggressive side, and then, when it's time to turn on the sexy side, you can do all of the hair flips you want. L.T. does a little hair flip of his own as he turns off the recording equipment.


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COVERSTORY

STRICTLY: BOSS BABES ACONVERSATIONWITHCO-FOUNDERFERLYPRADO,ANDEDITOR-IN-CHIEFALECIAWINTERSCOTT

L.T. Martinez (Publisher; CASA ALTA LLC) and Timothy Lewis (Photographer; Haus of Lanier LLC) have, once again, set up our interview space. Our makeup artist, (Jessica Cogburn), gives our interviewee, Ferly Prado (Team 3xT), a quick glam refresh after working up a sweat during her photoshoot. Cameras are on and we’re rolling:

Alecia Winter Scott: Hey, Ferly!! You are a gorgeous, Brazilian goddess and we are so happy that you are doing this interview with us for our Gratitude issue. We are so thankful for you! Ferly Prado: The honor is all mine! And I love this theme. I think we can't get enough gratitude in our lives. AWS: I agree. So, first thing we want to know is: what brought you to the States from Brazil? FP: My sister. It’s a depressing story with a happy ending. I was born and raised in Brazil where I grew up dancing in mom’s dance academy from the age of 3. I was never forced to dance, but I knew I wanted to be like my dad – a business person. As a child, my parents would bless us with vacations to the United States, specifically Orlando and New York [City]. My middle sister, Fernanda, was obsessed with the Lincoln Center. She was a gorgeous dancer. And she told my dad, “I want to dance here one day,” referring to the

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Lincoln Center. Two years in a row she said this and he asked her if she was serious and she was! For my dad, I think it was music to his ears. He loved the United States and thought his daughters would have a better life in this country. So my dad was thinking long, long term. My sister auditioned for a Russian ballet boarding school my dad found called Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. – she made it in, and, a year later, I missed her terribly. I just wanted to be with my sister. I asked my parents if I could join her. The news stressed them out and comforted them at the same time. AWS: Understandable. FP: So I trained really hard for 1 year with a private Russian Ballet teacher in Brazil. Ballet was not my forte, but I just worked really hard. I wanted to be next to my sister, that was the goal. Long story short, I made it into the school. This seems like a happy ending, but the director hated tall girls. I have always been tall. This was the beginning of my troubles as a teenager. I was told her hatred for tall dancers came from the fact her ex-husband had married a tall ballerina. So, a grown woman went after tall girls. She made it a point to call me to her office weekly to tell me I was, too, tall and would never make it as a professional dancer. I started getting depressed and gaining weight. “Now you're too tall and too fat. You should go back to Brazil, sweep the streets,” she would say. It was offensive, it was prejudice, and it was abusive. I didn’t know how to label it then, but I do now. I was deeply depressed at this point. I am adjusting to a new culture, learning a new language, and getting stomped on every day.


AWS: Wow, what an up and down roller coaster at 12 years old. FP: Yeah, it's crazy. I ended up in L.A. because of Debbie Allen. We knew her daughter, Vivian Nixon, from the Kirov. Debbie Allen opened a school in Los Angeles and invited my sister to join it. It was really, really great because now we weren’t just training in ballet. We were introduced to Hip-Hop, Jazz Funk, African dance, Dunham technique, Hoofing… All taught by incredible master teachers. And, as soon as I could, I started auditioning and dance became my career.

I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, which is a mental disorder, right before I turned 14. I was already 5’8” and I was only 89 lbs. I could barely see, I could barely jump. The one positive in this story is that God blessed me enough to have the only American teacher in that school, and she looked after me the best she could. My parents were struggling financially. We called them with IDT calling cards, and we had 5 minutes to talk. You think we are gonna tell them we are depressed and mentally ill, especially when it’s so expensive to keep us there? When they were finally able to come visit us, they saw our reality – my sister was bulimic and I had anorexia nervosa. They were in disbelief. They had no idea. So my teacher told my dad, “These girls need to get out of here.” She recommended a school in Orlando called Southern Ballet Theater, and at the time the director was Fernando Bujones. He was known as the Cuban Baryshnikov. That’s when I first fell in love with dance. He was so great, like a Russian dancer in my eyes, technically perfect, but he had heart. He wasn’t miserable like the perfect Russian dancers I had been observing. In Mr. Bujones I saw greatness and soul. When I watched him, I felt something; I didn’t just have an intellectual opinion of his technique. I said to myself, “That's what I want. If I can make people feel that when I dance, that’s what I want.” So that was the beginning of me falling in love with dance, which is why I stayed in the country.

AWS: That's amazing! So, I'm guessing your mom danced growing up and that's what made her want to teach dance? FP: My mom was extremely poor growing up. She told me her household shared one towel. Poor immigrant Italian family. My grandma favored my uncle, treated my mom like scum. My mom fell in love with music and dance, which I believe truly saved her. She would walk from dance school to dance school and watch classes from the window. That’s how she started learning dance. Her dad was a blacksmith and loved his daughter so much. So, whenever he had a little extra money, he would give it to her so she could buy a book about dance or music. My mom was actually never in a formal dance class training until later in life, when she started making her own little money. My mom started teaching other kids at 8 years old. She probably barely knew what she was doing, but she just knew she wanted to make money, until she could buy another

Knowing what I know now, though, I'm really grateful for my parents. They trusted the world, and trusted us to be alone. They were confident in their upbringing of us. Pictured: Left Page: (Bottom Left - Fabiana, Dad, Fernanda, Mom and Ferly) Right Page: (Top Left - Boarding School); (Bottom Right - Ferly, Fernanda, and Elza)

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book or eventually get into a class, you know? In her teenage years, she started playing the accordion. She started getting awards for it and getting humble cash awards. Her dad helped her build her first school from the ground up. When I was a kid, her studio had 400 registered students. She's incredible! AWS: Did you start teaching to kind of follow in your mom’s footsteps? What sparked teaching? FP: My mom was eventually invited by Debbie Allen to teach Flamenco at the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, which is the school my sister and I were attending at the time. I eventually left DADA to train professionally at Millennium, Edge, etc. But my mom needed my assistance due to her English, so I would assist her in her classes every Thursday and Saturday. My first experience teaching was literally under her wing; under her supervision. My mom is the true essence of what it means to be a great teacher. The woman cares. She has plenty of knowledge. She has experienced what it means to be a dancer and what it means to be transformed by dance. I can't say it enough – because I don't think most teachers do – she genuinely cares! It was never just a paycheck for her. So she instilled that in me. She taught me that when you're in front of a classroom, you have the opportunity and the responsibility to change the student’s life, and you're either going to make it better or you’re going to make it worse. That's how I got into teaching and how I look at teaching. To me, it's not a paycheck. To me, I don't take it for granted. If anything, it weighs a lot on me, but I love it. It's my way of serving. AWS: Amazing! And you got to go back and teach at your mom's studio in Brazil, right? FP: Yeah!!! AWS: How was that? FP: Oh, I got goosebumps. I told you it was a big studio growing up and she had many teachers. When my mom would enter the room, everyone stood taller. 38

When I was 6 years old, I shared the stage with my mom for the first time. In my wedding we redid the dance with the video in the background. It was very cool and emotional for us.

Everyone would just wait for her next word. [There] was just so much respect and so much love. And I felt that when I taught there in 2019. Even though these young students didn't know me personally, they didn’t even know my mom since she had been in the U.S. for so long, they knew and understood the legacy that was built there by her. Some of her former students came to take my classes, too, which was unreal for me! These women – who were my teachers when I was a little nugget – said to me, “I feel like I'm looking at Elza and I feel like I'm listening to Elza.” Elza is my mom. Thanks to my mom and dad I have a career in the U.S. as a dancer, and these kids most likely... it chokes me up… they most likely will never get the opportunity I got to move to the United States and turn dance into a career. So, it’s my opportunity to take everything that I've learned on stage, on TV sets, music video sets, and... AWS: Gift it to them.


Ferly nods and takes a deep breath. You can hear the tears welling up in Alecia’s voice as she makes her next remark.

AWS: Thank you for that. From behind the camera, L.T. speaks up.

LTM: This is good stuff, y’all. The studio is filled with lighthearted laughter.

AWS: Okay. Yeah… Wow. LTM: It's okay, we have all the time in the world… After a beat, Ferly continues.

FP: My dad died four years ago. I feel him so strongly right now. The studio is stunned in sudden silence. Ferly, in tears, gestures to her right hand side.

FP: It’s like he’s right here. My dad loved my mom deeply. They didn't work out, but they were like this… Ferly intertwines her middle and pointer fingers.

FP: But like this, too… Ferly pounds both fists together and laughs.

FP: So I think any time I talk about my mom, he comes close. AWS: Yeah. Sniffles are heard throughout the studio.

LTM: Take your time, please. FP: Thank you… Okay! Ferly suddenly looks to her right and laughingly says.

FP: Dad, shut up!! Wait your turn! The studio team joins her in boisterous laughter.

AWS: Okay, we're still going to talk a little bit about teaching dance, if that’s okay. FP: That’s perfect. I love that. Pictured: Left Page: (Top Right - End of the dance number at Ferly’s wedding & A Mi Manera: The first time my mom and I shared the stage - YouTube: https://youtu.be/D0huzWkDQZo Right Page: (Top Right - Watching Dad’s Tribute); (Middle Right - Tribute to Ferly’s Dad at her Wedding); (Bottom Right - Dad - Fernando)

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AWS: You’ve had the opportunity to teach at your moms studio, and teach some classes here [in Los Angeles]. How many years have you been teaching in total? FP: Let me do the math… I've been teaching a total of 18 years. My teaching style has changed a lot over the years. My influences are a few. I can even name them because I feel like they deserve the credit. AWS: Of course! FP: Obviously, first and foremost, my mom, Elza Prado. She’s the core of my teaching. My sister, not as a teacher, but [she] was very influential in my life. She had the guts to move to a country by herself, not knowing the language, not knowing the culture, not knowing what that experience would hold. It's really hard being a teenager, let alone in a different country. So if I have any ounce of courage in me I think it's because of my sister’s example for sure.

And last but not least, Kennis Marquis, who taught a class to our 3XT dance company...You [both] took his class! AWS/LTM: Yep! FP: Kennis taught me how to be full out. He taught me dance doesn't care about color. He taught me that everyone has a spot on the dance floor. I think my teaching has incrementally changed based on the different people that have come into my life at different times. AWS: Yep I agree. I just want to say... Whenever L.T. and I came to do that class with you guys and Kennis – all the things you said that day – I was literally slapping L.T. on the arm like, “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” I'm so glad that we were there to ask you guys to be our next cover story because everything you were saying was just… Alecia makes mind-explosion hands. Ferly chuckles in response.

Adrianne Dellas, who was my teacher at the Kirov. She was an extremely knowledgeable ballet teacher who explained the anatomy of the steps. She wanted you to understand how your body operates. It’s not just about getting your leg up, but how. It taught me to really respect and appreciate dance. She involved science, mathematics, music history, dance history in her teaching. So I really enjoyed that.

FP: Thank you! This reminds me, you have to know your worth at the end of the day. In a dance class, you don't have time to not like yourself. In a dance class, you're supposed to experience power and freedom. You're supposed to experience giving and taking. You're supposed to experience expression. There is no time to look in the mirror and not like you. There's just no time.

Fernando Bujones, of course, the Cuban Baryshnikov, how he danced, how he moved through space. He was so perfect and he was so human. He taught me you can be a soulful genius.

I think another thing I'm trying to do in my teaching and even choreographing – this is off subject, but hopefully it's okay – I'm tired of girls being sex symbols. I'm tired of seeing women humping the floor. I'm tired of seeing a video of a heels class where the dancers are taught “floor choreography” – A.K.A. pornography. You're stealing that person's money, not to mention their dignity.

At Debbie Allen’s, Stephen Smith was one of the principal dancers at Alvin Alley and he was my modern teacher, which was how I got introduced to the Alvin Ailey Dance Company for the first time. What Mr. Smith taught me was to dance with my spirit, just as he was taught in the Ailey company. It’s very spiritual for me and I owe it to him. Titus Fotso was my African teacher at Debbie Allen’s, and the way he was very influential to me was through his huge heart and his respect for his culture. He taught me to respect dance, its history, and its evolving culture. 40

The studio team breathes a long, understanding sigh.

FP: You're stealing their time. You're not teaching them anything. Even if girls walk out feeling sexy and they feel good about themselves, it's like... is that all this is? Is that how you're going to experience dance for the rest of your life? Just from an egoistic standpoint? Temporary pleasure or satisfaction? DANCE! Stop humping everything.


AWS: I love that. Like, as a person who is not a dancer but really loves the art of dance – and, like, all my friends are dancers. I’m literally the only one that’s not a dancer.

join your guys' company. What you said made me feel really comfortable. I know I'm not going to have to just come in there and sex up a chair, you know?

FP: You are a dancer.

FP: Never!

Alecia gives a shy laugh.

AWS: I want to take it back to your perspective of teaching. How do you look at teaching now?

AWS: But that's why I'm so scared to do dance classes, because… FP: Because you don't want to get pregnant. AWS: Yeah! The studio team once again bursts into a spirited bout of chuckles and guffaws.

FP: ...by the floor! I get it. Me neither. AWS: Like, I love ballet! I love doing ballet! FP: Yeah, because ballet is not gonna [accost] you! AWS: Yep. I think that's why I want to come Pictured: Right Page: (Top - Ferly teaching a class)

FP: It’s about creating a playground mentality for my students! The playground is fun and there are rules you must follow in order to partake. You got to respect other kids in the playground and respect yourself. If something is wrong, you speak up. If you're enjoying yourself, you show it. [On the] playground, there's time for free play and there's time for structured play. So, the structured play is the technique in dance for me. We live in a world that says, “You are so beautiful and you are so perfect.” Well, you are beautiful but you’re not perfect. People get so offended when corrected. 41


The free play is anytime I ask you to bring yourself into the steps, whether that’s in choreography or freestyle. That’s when you make your rules within the rules of the playground. Again, you have direction as you have freedom of expression. Dance is both considerate and honest, and it invites us to be the same. My teaching involves connection, respect, structure, and free play. All of this requires caring. When you finish teaching a really good class, it's like a bus hit you because you’re giving your all while taking whatever your students are throwing at you. If you're just doing it for a paycheck, you're not going to feel all of that. AWS: These are great responses! Jessica Cogburn: I am literally soaking everything in for my life! When I teach, I want my students to know it's okay to be wrong. In fact, I expect you to be. You’re learning something new and I am here to teach you! In fact I say, “If you're going to be wrong, be wrong STRONG!” Make the biggest mistake you can make. We've all taken [a] wrong turn and ended up in Arkansas.

AWS: Yeah, this is my therapy session for the day.

The studio team erupts into a brief cackling fit knowing that both Jessica and Alecia are from Arkansas.

FP: Yes, because my dream as a kid was to be a businesswoman. When I was little, my dad was the president of Johnson & Johnson.

FP: It's okay. The good news is, there's another road that will take you the right way. When do you learn the fastest: when you take that wrong turn and are stuck on the freeway for 15 miles until the next exit finally shows up; or, when you take a wrong turn that can be corrected in a block? You will most likely never miss that exit again and mistakenly drive for 15 miles. Small mistakes and big mistakes are both necessary for learning and growing. Structured play means we talk about what's right and wrong. That's the structure. There’s freedom in structure because it offers us direction and very little second guessing. I also encourage my students to meet themselves in my class. I think at 12 years old, for whatever reason, we all lost sense of ourselves. We look in the mirror. We have no idea who we are half the time.

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FP: Thank you so much! AWS: Are you living your childhood dream? Or has it changed?

AWS: Wow. FP: I remember being a little girl, going into his office, sitting on his lap, thinking it’s the coolest thing ever. Then I accomplished great things as a dancer. And the entrepreneur bug bit me. It started when I was doing ShowStoppers in Las Vegas; it was a show at The Wynn and I was dance captain. Part of the hotel policy was that, as an employee, you are to [always] look presentable on property. I turned my workout/dance clothes into cute outerwear so I could transition from hotel hallway, to meeting, to rehearsal fast. The dancers were always complimenting me like, “Ferly, you are always on point.” So, I just started an online store that sold the clothes I loved that helped women go from workout to walk out, so you can show up as your best. When you feel good, you do good. AWS: I was literally just thinking that in my head.


FP: I launched my website called ‘Wear Success’, and I just started getting pieces from different brands that I really liked; the prerequisite was that they were owned and managed by women. The first month I made twelve thousand in sales. AWS: Wow! FP: I know! My dad was so proud. I had no business degree, nothing. I was just doing it from the heart. AWS: So you got to be a business woman! FP: I know! And I was like, “Oh, there's something to this!” I didn’t want to be selling clothes, but it was a fantastic experience because I learned a lot! Then along comes Team3XT. It started while on a job with Alex in Puerto Rico for Nike, as I was listening to her story about Stiletto Fit, her former dance fitness program. I wanted to just help her revive it. It was such a good concept, and her business partner took off with it, with Alex’s blessing, and did her thing. “Girl, you should do the same,” I would say to her. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t do anything with it. So it started like that. It went from me wanting to help her to us doing our own thing, with an Instagram account called On The Road Workouts; self-explanatory right there. We shared what we did on the road to stay healthy and in shape. And then 3XT – which stands for triple threat – was born. The concept was to show you that you are a commodity, you are special, and just like a triple threat you can do it all if you want to. Our goal has always been to teach dance and fitness in a way that's accessible, impactful, and life-changing. I'm so over cheesiness. I'm so over certain programs that are cheating everyone from what dance is and has to offer. We created this program so people can experience the miracle of dance, not just calories burned or cool steps to post on TikTok. So, yeah, the dream has changed. Now I want to bring people on stage with me. Now I want to create a music video so dreamers and hard workers can be in the music video with me, you know? AWS: Yeah! Pictured: Left Page: (Top Left - Ferly and Team 3xT); Right Page: (Top Right - During the Beyonce Tour-Backstage)

FP: So, yes, it's evolving. And I think dreams should evolve because you are evolving. If your dream is stagnant that means you are stagnant. Look at your dreams and see how you're doing. AWS: I like that! I’m gonna share with you a little story. FP: Please! AWS: When I was younger, I wanted to be a manicurist. I wanted to, like, learn Vietnamese and work in the manicure salon… FP: And understand everything. AWS: Yeah, and my mom was like, “Oh my gosh, please, no.” But I would do her nails and use my fake accent and, like, ask her to tip me. FP: You were already an actress. AWS: Yeah! Then in eighth grade, we had to do a presentation of where we want to go to college and what we want to major in. And my mom was just thinking, “What the heck is she going to do a poster on? There's no 43


famous college for nails.” So I came home, and I said, “Okay, so I'm going to do it on UCLA. This is their theater program.” And she was like, “What??” And I was like, “Yeah, this is where I want to go. This is my dream school.” FP: It just happened like that? AWS: Yeah! And so I did my whole thing, wrote it out, researched everything. My mom was like, “What made a change?” And I said, “Well, I didn't know that you could literally be in the movies just like everybody else.” I didn't know that was an option. Since eighth grade, my mom put me in theater and was like, “Okay, we'll try it.” And I tried it on stage and then it clicked. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. Like, I'm not good at math. My mom does taxes and is an accountant. FP: Oh my gosh! Do you remember who told you you could be in a movie? AWS: I think we had to sign up in the sixth grade for either band, art, painting, or choir. I didn't know what the word choir was, so I didn't know that meant singing. We had to go to an assembly and watch all the three things and pick right after. So I was like, “Oh. You can sing! I sing all the time.” Then some folks said, “We have a theater program here, so you can sing and act.” And I was like, “What? You can actually do that? I never knew!” My mom would take me to concerts when I was, like, three, and go to Broadway shows and stuff, but I had no idea. FP: Listen, when you book your first feature, write that school a letter. AWS: Yeah. Literally. Thank you. FP: Thank you for that assembly. Thank god for choir! AWS: Literally or I would have been doing people's nails right now. FP: No shame! We all need them! AWS: But yeah, it's so true! Dreams change and you never know when! FP: Exactly. AWS: Anyways! The way that you teach is very positive and inspirational and influential to people. How have the ethics and morals that 44

have been instilled in you been brought into the way you teach or look at teaching? FP: First and foremost, if my dad can't be in the front row, I don't want to do it. And if I don’t want to do it then I sure shouldn’t teach it. Outside of that, here are the three things I follow: stay humble; not everything is in my control but working hard is; stay kid-like. Staying humble to me means remembering where I come from. It also means remembering my identity, that I'm worth the respect, that I’m worth the love, worth consideration just like my neighbor is. Number two is I know I'm not in control of everything. God is in control of everything, but the things that I am in control of I take seriously. And being kid-like to me means I approach things as clearly as possible with authenticity. I want to walk into a room and know who I am and be driven by my dreams, just like a child. I don't know if it's around 12 years old, but somewhere along the road we lost [it] because someone told us to land. “This is reality! You're daydreaming. Stop it.” That part of our brain got shut down. The imagination is the part that takes us there. I'm not into manifestation, I'm not into speaking things into existence, so that’s not what imagination is about for me. I believe in God. I believe in what I want; I see it, I imagine it, but I know if it doesn’t [happen] it’s not because I didn’t manifest it correctly or didn’t think positively. It’s simply not for me at that time. And God has my back, so I go after fervently and surrender to the result. Imagination has been a huge part of me since childhood and thank God I kept it. I remember being in class as a teenager and I would imagine myself in a music video. I would imagine myself in front of thousands and thousands of people. I would imagine myself in an audition. Imagining made me hungry for it, so I went after it as hard as I could. So when I got there, it looked familiar because I imagined it already. Imagination keeps me in the game. (Continued on page 64)


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COMMUNITY EDITORIALSPT.II 52


I AM GRATEFUL FOR…

This illustration is a thanksgiving table setting. The theme of gratitude fits in with thanksgiving which is a season of being grateful. - Amelia Mellberg Website I'm grateful to God for providing me the opportunity to wake up each day. - Duane Johnson Website

Black Hands is a piece about taking time to enjoy living in a moment that continues to feed and nurture. It urges one to consider the things in their life they take for granted like fresh drinking water and the ability to move, feel and express themselves. Gratitude is something that you can feel in a fresh drink of water or a cleansing bath after a particularly excruciating day. Black hands is a gift to self and a thankfulness of being able to sustain one's self. - Erica Imoisi Instagram I Website

Well it shows how to be grateful to not only GET to see another day but to set YOUR intentions for that day. I once went for ten full months without seeing it as I was locked away in a state penitentiary. - Daniel Garza Instagram 1 Instagram 2

Gratitude for inspiration. Models spiritual guide is the Tiger - Stephen Neil Gill Instagram I Website

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ART In 2020 I made a series of paper-art pieces for suicide prevention. A lot of them have song lyrics from some of my favorite bands and artists. It was mainly for myself because I struggle with depression and suicidal ideations. After making a bunch of pieces, friends and other people who follow my work were connecting to what I was making. I felt so grateful that my work was becoming meaningful to other people. Ultimately, that’s what I want my work to be: meaningful, impactful, and compassionate. I made multiple pieces for the body of work for suicide prevention, but the first piece is the most powerful for me personally. Even though I am diagnosed with Dysthymia, thinking about depressive and suicidal thoughts as temporary can be tough but doable. I’ve done it before, I can do it again. Maybe this piece will inspire someone else to seek help if they are in a bad place.

Inspired by the 40th anniversary of John Lennon's death. The names of the painting is “The Gift” at first I was going to name it “A Gift For John” - Hunter Website

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There’s still a stigma that surrounds mental health. It’s not viewed as actual health, when the brain is part of the body. I have attempted to get this body of work out to different exhibitions and opportunities, but rejection followed. It made me think that maybe those individuals have some unresolved stigma towards depression and suicide prevention. - Jordan Merlino Website


STORYTELLING Raccoons Can Play Soccer shows the beautiful bond between a mom who is constantly getting bad news, and her young, insightful daughter. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, family will be there. My family is my greatest blessing and this script reflects my gratitude for my family. I am grateful for every laugh, scream, tear, and smile caused by my family. Even in my darkest times, I find relief through my family. - Kayla Elfers Instagram Raccoons Can Play Soccer By Kayla Elfers (Lights up on a parking lot. ELENA enters and sits on a bench, on the phone.) ELENA Hey, what’s going on? I’m at EJ’s soccer practice. Wait, what do you mean? No, no that can’t happen. Well that’s not what they told me. They said they’d sell it for half price. Please don’t get upset, it’ll work out. You never know. Maybe next month. I’ll be able to chip in more, too. No, that’s ridiculous. His family shouldn’t be paying for that. We should. (Beat) Don’t say that. We all are struggling, not just you. What do you mean? I do not have a perfect life! I know you’re angry and upset but I’m trying to help you. You know what? I’ll talk to you when you’re in a better mood. (Elena calls another number.) ELENA Hi Dad. Just wanted to check up on you and Mom. How’s she doing? I know, Donna told me. We’ll figure it out though, so how’s Mom? Can I talk to her? I feel like she’s always there, well tell her she can leave the Audrey Penn book in the mailbox. Did she get the book I left for her? Yeah, that one! John Updike will make her treatments fly by! Wait, what? I thought-- But they said--No, no, no, no, no. They specifically said there would be more. Why’d you tell me this now? You couldn’t have waited until I came over? I’ll-- Yes, I am. I do not care, it’s false information. I’ll let you know what they say. Bye. (Elena calls another number.) ELENA Hello, I am looking for-- yes! How’d you know? Okay, I’ll hold… Hello, yes, I um, wanted to know why my Mom finished her treatments even though she had eight more? How is that possible? (EMMA enters.) ELENA (CONT’D) Yesterday you said a year, now only a few months? Why, why would you say that? (Beat) Yes, I understand. You, too. (ELENA ends call.) EMMA Mommy, you missed it! A raccoon is on the field! She’s still there if you wanna go see it. ELENA Raccoons can be dangerous. EMMA But they’re so cute! And they’re smart. Just like us! (EMMA sits down on ELENA’s lap.) EMMA (CONT’D) I think it’d be so cool to be a raccoon. Are there anymore around? ELENA Oh darlin’, darlin’, darlin’. I love you baby girl.

EMMA I love you too. (ELENA begins to cry. EMMA sits down right beside ELENA.) EMMA (CONT’D) Why you cryin’? Please don’t be sad. ELENA (Smiling) Oh, I’m not crying, I’m just a little sad, that’s all. EMMA Why are you so sad? ELENA (Sighs) I don’t know why. Sometimes people cry because they want to let it all out. EMMA Is this about who I think it’s about? ELENA No, I just felt like crying, that’s all. EMMA No! You and I know what you’re really crying about. ELENA Why don’t we talk about someth-EMMA You’re crying because of your mom. I got it right, right? I heard you talking to Daddy before we left to go to EJ’s soccer practice. I know. ELENA She’s NANA to you. Don’t call her anything else or she’ll be really sad, too. EMMA So you are sad about Nana. Why would you be sad about Nana? ELENA You were eavesdropping on me? EMMA Maybe. But why are you sad about Nana? ELENA (Sighs) Nana is really sick/ Just listen. EMMA I know that/ Okay. ELENA Nana is more sick now. She isn’t going to be here. EMMA What do you mean? Where is she going? Is she gon-ELENA (Crying) Mom’s aren’t supposed to die at fifty-four. Moms aren’t supposed to get cancer and leave. (Beat) Mommy isn’t going to make it to Donna’s

wedding. She won’t even see her son. Daddy has spent every penny on her cancer and now he can barely afford a proper burial. God, why did this have to happen? I’m just-(EMMA hugs ELENA.) EMMA We will get through this, I promise. (ELENA sits upright, blowing her nose.) ELENA I love you, too baby girl. I’m sorry, too. EMMA What for? ELENA A mom should never cry in front of her children. EMMA Really? That’s dumb. ELENA Hey! Don’t say dumb, that’s a bad word. EMMA If you can say it, I can say it. ELENA (Smiling) No, that’s not how this works. EMMA Your smile is so beautiful. ELENA Thank you. (EMMA looks up and points.) EMMA Look! A shooting star! It’s a sign! Make a wish for Nana! Make a wish! Make a wish! Hurry! Before it falls outta the sky! ELENA That’s actually an airplane. EMMA Oh. Are airplanes lucky? ELENA What? EMMA Because if they are then we can make wishes on them, too. ELENA I don’t know if that’s how it works. EMMA What works? ELENA The universe. You see, the universe acts in mysterious ways. Whenever a shooting star passes and you make a wish, that wish will come true. Or a bird, that’s good luck. Mysterious, right? EMMA What do birds do to become so lucky?

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ELENA They poop on you. EMMA Ew! That isn’t good luck! (ELENA laughs.) EMMA (CONT’D) But if the universe acts in mysterious ways, maybe Nana won’t be sick anymore. ELENA I wish with all my heart for that to happen but it won’t. EMMA You can’t say that because now it won’t happen. You have to believe. ELENA The universe doesn’t work in our favor. EMMA Sometimes it does. Maybe not now, but it will. ELENA (Smiling) How did I get so lucky to have you? EMMA I don’t know. Ask the universe maybe! (ELENA and EMMA laugh. ELENA picks up her ringing phone.) ELENA Hi, this is she. May I ask who is speaking? Oh, hi! I haven’t heard from you in so long! How’s Arizona? Nice, is the heat bearable? Hahaha. And how’s he doing? Aw, that’s nice. I was just thinking about that! You should come back to New York for a bit. I wish I could chat more right now but EJ is getting out of soccer practice. Yep, defense, he takes after me! I’ll call you in a bit. Okay. Love ya too, Brenda. Bye. (ELENA puts the phone away.) EMMA How did you do that? ELENA What? Answer a call? I pressed the green button. EMMA No, I know that. How did you get so happy? ELENA I’m a raccoon. EMMA No, but really, how’d you sound happy even though you weren’t? ELENA I have the superpower to cry one minute and then be happy. EMMA Why do you do that? ELENA I don’t know. I do it because I don’t want to make others cry? EMMA But you cried in front of me and I didn’t cry. ELENA Good point. I don’t know then. EMMA I think it’s because you’re strong. ELENA Thank you! My muscles must be showing off! EMMA (Giggling) No, like a superhero kinda strong. You’re a tough cookie. ELENA Nana was a tough cookie, too you know. And you’re a tough cookie just like us.

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EMMA I wonder if I’ll be able to have your superpower one day. ELENA I don’t think you’ll need this super power. EMMA Why not? ELENA Because, I want you to have a better super power. EMMA Like teleleeleekenisis? ELENA Telekinesis? Sure. (EMMA and ELENA both laugh. ELENA checks her watch.) ELENA (CONT’D) EJ should be done with practice soon. Come on, let’s go find Daddy and tell him to start the car. EMMA I love you, Mommy. (EMMA hugs ELENA.) ELENA I love you, too baby girl. (EEBIE and EJ enter.) EEBIE We were looking for you guys everywhere. EJ Mom! You missed it! The coach said he wants me on his travel team! Can I do it? ELENA That’s awesome! We’ll have to think about it though. EJ Well, think about it soon because the first game for travel is in two weeks! EEBIE I’m gonna go start the car. ELENA You’re just starting it now? I told you to start it five minutes before his practice ended. EEBIE His practice ended five minutes early, and besides, I wasn’t gonna leave him. He would’ve thought we all left him. EJ No I wouldn’t. EEBIE I don’t know, the last time I went to start the car early, your mother got mad at me. ELENA First of all Eebie, I wasn’t there to watch him while you went to the car. And second, don’t put this all on me! All I wanted was for the car to be started so we wouldn’t freeze to death. EEBIE Freeze to death? It’s fifty degrees out! ELENA It’s forty-five actually and your son is wearing fuckin’ shorts. SHORTS. I don’t want him to get the flu. EEBIE Will you relax? ELENA No, I will not relax! I wanted to avoid my son from getting sick but at this point it’s inevitable. And if it’s not a big deal, why don’t you stand in the cold with shorts on? EEBIE He got out earlier than expected, and I never said it wasn’t a big deal-ELENA Oh, but you did! Don’t play stupid.

EEBIE Why do you do this Elena? We aren’t even home. ELENA Everyone else went home already because they started their FUCKING CARS FIVE FUCKING MINUTES BEFORE THE PRACTICE ENDED. EEBIE Whatever. I’ll start the damn car. EJ Um, can I come with you? ELENA (Calming down) We’ll all walk over as a family. EEBIE Now you decide to be a family? ELENA (Breaking down) My Mom is dying, Eebie. DYING. I haven’t seen my brother in over a year because God knows what he’s doing, Dad is living off of canned tuna, and my sister… She was going to purchase her wedding dress today. She was forced to put it back. She didn’t have enough money. That’s what’s going on right now. So I’m sorry if you ELENA (CONT’D) think I’m not thinking about our family. Right now, MY family is a mess and I don’t know what to do. EEBIE (Hugs ELENA.) It’s okay, it’s okay. Calm down. (EMMA begins to cry.) EJ Now why are you crying? ELENA (Calming down) She’s a tough cookie, that’s why. Now let’s get in the car, I’m freezin’. EMMA Mommy, do you think the universe will make you happy again? ELENA What do you mean? I am happy right now. EMMA You aren’t happy. (EEBIE looks at EJ.) EJ Hey Emma, wanna race to the car? EMMA Okay. EEBIE Whoever wins gets a slushie and whoever loses gets a slushie, too! ELENA On your mark, get set, annnnd… GO! (EJ and EMMA run off the stage.) EEBIE I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything. ELENA It’s okay, and I’m sorry too. I just don’t want to lose my Mom. EEBIE Death is inevitable, Elena and there’s nothing we can do about it. ELENA (Sighs) I know. (Beat) Come on, let’s go get them slushies. (EEBIE and ELENA exit. Lights out.)


MUSIC Dear Gatekeeper written by Victoria Acuna celebrates the power that we all hold within ourselves to create our own realities. - Victoria Acuna Instagram

Dear Gatekeeper In the moments that you feel empty turn to things that fill you with small joys. Seeing flowers blooming, a hummingbird swiftly flying by, The garbage man hauling away the old couch that’s been littered on the sidewalk outside your house for weeks. New beginnings, start with small steps and new initiatives. The ability to get outside of your head creates a river of consciousness that leads out of the deep murky swamp you’ve been stuck in for weeks. Often times you might wonder why you are not enough, or worthy of life, never fail to remind yourself that you hold the power to swiftly smash all of these petty thoughts and make them quiver in their own existence. You are worthy, You are great, You radiate love, and deserve it in return.

Honestly, having music to work on during the quarantine was a life saver. My music partner (Foxx) and I had been developing our album for two years before Covid put everybody back in their corners. We used it as an experience to dive deep underneath the wave and finish what we started. By the time we released our debut album, Fine Tuned, we had put in over 3 years in the studio and over 6 as friends and co creators. This music video for our first single, “Danny Glover”, was a chance to put our money where our mouth was. To gather our tribe and allow the co creation process to expand by including our friends in filming, choreography, directing and editing. Coming together, working towards a common purpose; to be a SUPERFORCE OF LOVE… and I’d say we accomplished that goal- at a time where all has seemed so unsure and bleak. For this, I am gratitudalicious. Please enjoy “Danny Glover (I Like Your Tattoo)”. - Judah Frank Spotify

The biggest feat of all is remembering you are the gatekeeper.

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CREATIVE EXPRESSION Title: "A Small, but Vast Space" Medium: digital photography usual display: set of 20 photographs (4 across, 5 down) During my sophomore year of college I lived in a single dorm where you could touch both sides of the room simply by lifting both arms. It was the first time I ever lived alone. Despite the room being so small, it was the perfect home for me. This was the follow up to a difficult freshman year, full of the ups and downs that come with each new phase of life. In this space I learned how to spend time with myself again, hang as many string lights as I had, survive on coffee and tv filled allnighters, cry, sing, and dance(where there was room). I never felt that my space was “too small”. It gave me everything I needed to be close with myself again. I candidly captured my daily life in this room, to immortalize the ability to view and reminisce on my tiny dorm room, and all it gave me. - Nicole Malcolm Instagram I Website I YouTube

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Places You Pass is reminiscent of a significant memory I have from my freshman year of college. I was seventeen years old, moved away to school, and was attempting to find myself through my first real heartbreak. It took a dining hall job, sitting at open mic nights alone, drinks in hand, and crying at night. Despite it all, that first spring semester is the most challenging and rewarding period of time I’ve ever experienced. One night in particular showed me everything I was looking for. I was in the studio late with two of my new friends. We were anxiously trying to finish up a final project, while also making it a fun, podcast, music, and snack filled night. Both of my friends finished up and I decided to stay a little longer. For the first time in months I listened to music by myself, and enjoyed being with my thoughts. When I packed up and walked outside, I sat down and looked out over the Appalachian Hills and lights in the distance. It was the night before the last day of my first year. I was okay. I found incredible people, made honest artwork again, and had more fun than I ever could have imagined. Most importantly, I could feel how much I had grown. That last week I ended with my weekly ritual of going to the open mic night uptown, alone. Friday nights were days I dedicated to spending that time with myself. Over the years I have taken friends and family, while growing a connection with local musician Bruce Dalzell. The song in this installation, I Will Wait For You, was written by Bruce and I. It represents the quiet moment I had at the top of the hill, and wanting to pass this story onto others. I created this piece at the end of my senior year, as a reflection of the past 4 years, and a still moment frozen in time at the end of my freshman year. I often think about how some “places you pass” end up being the places where you will have life changing moments, and you don’t even know it yet. The dorm I lived in with my “random roommate”, our group of unbelievable friends, the studios I spent late nights in, drinks I consider to be magic from coffee shops uptown, and open mic night music that sent my heart into the sky, are just a few of the reasons I am forever changed by Athens. This work is a representation of the way in which I hold onto places, and moments in time. I will carry this with me, and remember that each new place I go will change me in ways I do not yet know. The exterior of the installation is formed by hand drawn imagery that has been screen printed (double sides) on Tyvek, and hung with fishing line. The two corner wallpaper rolls are pulled up by the outer corner, like a curtain, to add a welcoming entrance to viewers. Inside are both collected and made objects. The string lights inside act as an extension of the fireflies pictures on the exterior. The room consists of a rug, blankets, pillow, desk, and a chair. On the desk is a journal (hand bound, handmade cotton rag and abaca paper, mixed media) filled with illustrations and saved memorabilia from my time in Athens. A radio contains a physical CD with Bruce and I's song "I Will Wait For You", with headphones allowing the viewer to have a personal experience while they listen at their own leisure. Sprawled throughout the space are sheets of handmade abaca paper, with screen printed lyrics to the song. On one side are the final lyrics (handwritten and then screen printed), with original notes and the songwriting process printed on the other side. Some of these sheets are suspended in the air, representing a moment in time. A memory being experienced, and then revisited. Viewers are encouraged to listen for as long as they'd like, flip through the journal, pick up anything they wish, go through drawers, and make themselves at home. When this piece was installed in Spring 2021, I also provided wipes and hand sanitizer for COVID guidelines.

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COVERSTORY

CONTINUED: FERLY PRADO AWS: You just mentioned that your dad passed away a few years ago; that was right around the time you got Beyonce's Formation tour correct? FP: That day; the day I started rehearsal. AWS: How was that? Because you're on a high from doing something that's so great and part of your dream. But then also, like part of your life is… FP: When I went to see my dad in Brazil, he was having heart issues, but my dad was the type of person that only said something bad was happening once it was solved. So, I knew he was having heart issues, but he didn’t make it sound like it was a big deal. [In] February of 2016, I went to the Formation World Tour audition which was two long days. Really long days. When I got the call that I got the job, I told my dad, “I got the Beyonce tour!” It didn't matter what I did, he was always so proud, but this time he was like, “Are you sure that's what you want to do?” Because Wear Success was doing so well, he said, “You know, your business is going to suffer. You can’t be in two places at the same time.” And I said, “I know, but I sacrificed so much to come to this country to pursue my dream of dance. That's what I need to stay focused on. That's what you taught me anyway. To stay focused no matter what.”

Two days before he passed away, we had a FaceTime call, and he was just staring at me. Then he said to me, “I'm so proud of you.” I said, “Thanks dad but what's going on?” He's like, “Look, no matter what happens, don't come to Brazil.” I was like, “What are you talking about?” He said, “If something happens to me, you coming back won’t bring me back.” And I asked him, “Dad, what’s going on? Are you that sick?” He's like, “No, I'm just saying. Ferly, listen to me, you moved there at such a young age, we basically lost our daughters...” because my sister and I practically raised ourselves as teenagers, “I lost my daughters for you to pursue your dreams. You stay focused. You coming back will not bring me back. And always choose your perspective.” My dad was huge on perspective. He would hold an object up and ask for my perspective of the object and he would give me his, pointing out we see different things yet we are looking at the same object. Two days after that FaceTime call, he passed away. It was March 1st, 2016, 4:30am when we got a call from his girlfriend in Brazil saying he passed away in his sleep. I was supposed to start rehearsal at 10 o'clock in the morning. My mom is, like, losing it. I'm losing it. My mom said, “You don't have to go to rehearsal. Let's deal with this.” And I said, “I made my dad a promise. I'm going to stay focused.” So, I went to rehearsal. I told my tour manager, who I just met and I said, “I'm so sorry, but this is my situation right now.” He told me to tell the choreographers, so I did. The camp was really kind and was like “If you need to take a break, go to Brazil, handle that situation, do it.” And I said, “No, thank you. That’s not what my dad wants so I'm going to stay.” And – oh, my God – day one, I'm learning steps with tears in my face, thinking of his face. And I just kept reminding myself every minute, “You got to stay focused. You got to stay focused.” The tour was seven months long, or something, and I didn’t mourn my dad until after it was over. My dad taught his girls to be strong; he

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taught his girls to have purpose, to stay focused. Don’t let anything waiver you. And choose your perspective. AWS: Thank you for sharing that. FP: Of course. It’s my pleasure. AWS: Is there any artist that you’ve worked with that – FP: Tina Turner. Alecia and Ferly laugh together about how quickly Ferly’s response came.

FP: I don't even care what the question is. Tina Turner is my absolute favorite artist that I’ve ever worked for, and I got spoiled because that was my first big job. I don't know actors, but dancers are taught that we are at the bottom of the pyramid. Ferly goes on to demonstrate the tiers with her hands starting from the capstone.

FP: Here's the Artist and the A-Camp; the artist’s immediate team. Then it’s the musical director, and then it's the musicians, and at the bottom is the dancers and the crew. I have worked for camps that say, “You're lucky to be here.” Instead, the mentality on the Tina Turner Tour was WE are all blessed and happy to be here. Tina was absolutely our leader, and everyone else was equal partners. She treated everyone with the same respect, in the same regard. If you put a nail down on her stage, you were just as important as if you were next to her doing a dance step. Before every show she would call us to her dressing room and ask us, one by one, “Are you happy?” And until this day, if I cross paths with bus drivers, truck drivers, riggers, musicians, dancers from that Tina Tour; we all reminisce about it with love and nostalgia. When you’re on tour, you're literally giving up your life. As amazing as it sounds to be on tour – and it is – it is also very hard on you. Ms. Tina understood that. So, hands down, I don't think anyone will ever beat Ms. Tina’s standards for what a tour should look and feel like. Touring people should be treated well, just like in any other line of work. Pictured: Left Page: (Bottom Left - Ferly and Dad on last trip to Brazil); Right Page: (Top Right - Ferly and Tina Turner)

AWS: Was that your favorite gig or tour that you’ve had or do you have others? Or, are there aspects of others that were super cool? FP: Obviously, the Formation Tour. I loved my time on stage, it just felt so good. It was a stadium tour, which means the audience size was 70 to 90 thousand. Your brain can't even comprehend it. There's so much yelling that the stage vibrates. As soon as you step on stage, you say to yourself, “Whoa! Let’s do this!” It's so good. And again, just like teaching, I have an opportunity to change that person's day. For 90 minutes, when you go to a concert you're not thinking of Verizon, your mortgage. Life is good for 90 minutes. It’s very powerful. I also enjoyed working for Justin Timberlake a lot. He was really down to earth. It doesn’t feel like you’re talking to a celebrity. Feel very 65


normal and familiar. And Cher! Cher is a legend. She's one of my favorites. On her tour, I felt so trusted, I felt appreciated. I'd say she's very present. She looks at you. A lot of artists don't look at their dancers. Cher looks at you, laughs at you – in a good way! And her audience! Her audience is legit! Her audience comes for a good time. They're all dressed up, I’m like, “There’s Cher! There is also Cher!” AWS: You have had a very blessed dancing life and everything. So, how do you balance family and friends, jobs, going on tours, Team3xT? FP: Great question. I don't! The pair chuckle together.

AWS: Are people at least understanding if you have to miss something? FP: Of course they are. It's something that I actually have to be very careful about. I do want to do a better job at giving [my personal life – including quiet alone time – a lot more importance because you put things as a priority when they're important to you. I want them to take more of that top spot on my list of priorities. I just need to reprogram because I think, at such a young age, coming to this country and being so goal-driven literally became part of my DNA. But the good news is that we can all change. I am very lucky to have a husband, mother, sisters that understand that I may go five years without answering a text message because I'm just so focused. They understand, and I’m not proud of it. Absolutely not. I am not someone who says, “Well, that's the way I am, you either accept me or you don't.” I don’t think we have time for that. It doesn't serve me. I don't want to be so self- or goal- or businessoriented where it denies everything else about me. I'm working on it. AWS: What's your top three pieces of advice to dancers? FP: Number one: know yourself. The hardest thing is to be yourself. “Be you” is the most cliche advice we get – it doesn’t matter what career you're in – and it's the hardest thing to do. Look at your calendar and your checkbook, where are you spending your


time and your money? You have to take some time to date yourself. Take yourself on a date, go be weird and take yourself out to lunch. Get to know yourself. Have your head on your shoulders, know who you are and fight to keep that person that you see in the mirror. Number two: respect what you do. Learn to respect dance, learn to respect this world. Again, when you truly respect something, expectations come down, which means entitlement comes down, too. So approach it with respect. Number three: do not give up if it matters to you. I think the only difference between me and dancers that I know for a fact were a lot more gifted than I was and are no longer in the industry is that I stayed and kept knocking on doors. You knock on a door long enough, someone will open it. Someone, somewhere, sometime will open it. And remember you want to be that person that people enjoy being in the room with.

have so much purpose when I'm dancing and teaching, I feel like the world is so right and I'm so in my element. And, though those statements seem so self-serving, I was lucky enough to be taught that dance is not about me. I'm hopefully inspiring, teaching, and guiding people into making the world a better place, whatever that means to the person in the moment. So yeah, purpose. I'm living my purpose. AWS: Yay! FP: It feels good. AWS: Thank you so much. FP: This was like Dr. Phil! Laughter fills the studio as recording equipment and lighting are turned off.

And – a bonus one – number four... I’ll say this because it brought me here: you are not replaceable. Bodies are replaceable. You are absolutely not replaceable. My dad taught me that. Sure, you can lose your job and someone else can take it. It doesn't mean you're replaceable. And I think that's important to hold on to because this industry will rip you apart. It will completely make you forget why you even started doing it and why you are in it. AWS: What does working hard mean to you?. FP: Being willing to do something you haven't done before, especially if no one ever sees it or applauds you for it. You have to be willing to do something you've never done before, knowing that you might never get recognition for it or the result you want. That's working hard. Maybe nobody will applaud you. Maybe you’ll never accomplish what you’re working for. But you don’t know, that’s why you work at it. AWS: Lastly... We're asking you guys, with gratitude as the theme, what is something your career has given you that you are grateful for? FP: Confidence... But most of all, purpose. I Pictured: Left Page: (Top to Bottom: 1. Formation Tour 2. Suit and Tie Music Video 3. Cher Tour 4. Work Bitch Music Video); Right Page: (Bottom Right - Backstage)

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Profile for CASA ALTA

STRICTLY GRATITUDE: Fall 2021  

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