I was born and raised in Denver. I came out
of a community of artists. My mother and father were both artists, and they were such an inspiration.
I knew I loved choreography, and that’s where it really started. And that I knew that I
wanted to create other opportunities for young people who didn’t live on the East coast or
the West coast, but who were right here in the middle of the country.
– You know, when we talk about Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, I think that a lot of us know
about the ensemble. World-renowned, high-caliber dancers that have really attracted some of
the masters in dance from around the world who want to come and create on the company.
But, as we start to expand out, we have our theater, so it’s a 250 seat theater. We have
our academy, and within the academy, we have over 1,000 students. Then, our arts and education
programs, right now we’re serving approximately 80 schools. The company emerged out of 1970,
so out of the ’60s, out of this tumultuous time period.
– We didn’t have many organizations that were integrated and had people of different economic
backgrounds, different abilities, different cultures. That did not exist. Not in Denver.
That became what drove me. It drove me to change what that looked like and felt like.
So that anyone and everyone who walked in the door would believe the belonged there.
– There is a real conscious effort in terms of wanting to create a space that was welcoming,
and that honored each of our voices, that certainly honored the African-American experience
and heritage that we come from, but, knowing that it wasn’t going to be at the exclusion
of other voices. – We really impact many communities, and that’s
probably the most exciting thing for me. – Being recognized for impact, what I immediately
start to think about is all the people that really helped to make the vision happen.
– If you have an idea, and nobody believes it, it dies. And it could have died 50 years
ago. It could have. But, I had some wonderful people around me that were as crazy as I was.
– This organization really does create a sense of belonging. People that are coming in from
all walks of life, different perspectives. To have an impact there, at the heart, sort
of changes how you think about the world. That stays in the forefront for us.
– We really did a lot of dreaming. We did. We did. But, I never dreamt that we would
have our own theater, and that we would be in 30 countries, and inspiring thousands of
young people from the age of one all the way up. I did dream a lot, but I never dreamt
that. We’ve gone beyond our dreams.