Dance alum influenced by a legacy of black teaching

Christine Wyatt (BFA ’18), in an interview for Dancers of RVA, said that dance has been a part of her life since she was a little girl. In embracing her identity and heritage, dance educators have been just as powerful.

“All of my teachers were black—Mari Andrea Travis, Carl Pitts, Kamara Boyd, to name a few,” said Wyatt. “I think having black teachers kept my heart in it and knowing that there was a legacy to carry on kept me motivated from the inside. I loved movement, but I also was obsessed with the meaning dance could make.”

The mentors in her life imparted a reverence for tradition and history in African American performance that she carried with her to VCUarts.

“By the time I graduated, [classmate] Jelani Taylor (BFA ’19) and I ended up co-creating two evening length performances,” she said, “and I completing a self-designed research project entitled ‘Decolonizing Dance,’ and participated in a social justice project called #donttouchmyhairRVA, all of them VCUarts grant-funded. It’s such an amazing feeling having an institution financially back your vision and interests.”

“Decolonizing Dance” was rooted in her experience at Urban Bush Woman’s Summer Leadership Institute in 2017, where she studied the how communities were built and maintained through collaborative effort.

In the Dancers of RVA interview, Wyatt traces her rich personal history in dance up to this past summer, when she partnered with musician and fellow alum Chet Frierson (BM ’18) on a new project.

“Africanist influence, research, community, and collaboration make my dance world go ‘round,” she said. “I perform, choreograph, teach and facilitate, read, write… All the things.”

Image by Katrina Boone for Dancers of RVA.