New Song, New Dance
“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE THE TRIBE TO KNOW YOU?
Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, Rachel Watson-Jih began dancing at the age of four. She received a BFA in Contemporary Dance in May of 2012. Since relocating to New York, she’s performed at Lincoln Center Outdoors and Joe’s Pub with Mark Dendy, Karen Harvey Dances, Mari Meade Dance Collective, and apprenticed with Camille A. Brown and Dancers.
She made her Public Theater Debut in Eve’s Song Fall 2018 and joined Company SBB in 2019. Her TV and commercial work include ABC’S Manhattan Love Story, PC Richard and Sons commercial, SKYPE, Aetna, Tic Tac, and danced with Ryan Heffington in New York Fashion Week, Desigual Couture line. She has been a part of SheThinx and Coach campaigns and featured in music videos for Vanity Fair and VICE/Black Coffee. Rachel is currently a teaching artist with the Alvin Ailey Arts in Education & Community Program and is the Founder and Artistic Director of Blue Morph Collective.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think "Sol·i·dar·i·ty" ?
Why did you decided to pursue dancing?
No matter what the world looks like, no matter the uncertainties of the future, we need to continue sharing our stories. Through sharing, there will be revelation, healing, and restoration. Dance allows me to share my story. Dance allows me to fully express all the tension, triumph, and complexities life and relationships bring. It is when I feel most free, most at peace, most in line with my purpose on earth. To share. To share myself and hope that through that others feel connected, lifted, and restored.
As a black woman how have you been influenced or shifted by the oppression of black and brown communities globally?
After George Floyd was murdered, my way of protesting was dancing. It was the first time in my dance career that I saw it all plainly and expressed it all plainly. Native Americans, African-American slaves, the European spirit of superiority that came not only to this nation but to dance and to my training. I had to reckon with the fact that what I had been taught in dance, that ballet was not the "superior" style of dance, it was actually just A style of dance. Every style of dance is important, every style of dance has a technique, we are all loved and cherished my God. It is up to us how we express with our bodies. We have to be true to how our body naturally wants to move. Not force it to do something because someone said it was the way. Lets love our bodies. Take ownership of them. Take them back and EXPRESS fully. Live fully. Move fully.
What is your personal mantra?
I was so young and so eager, but I had A LOT to learn. Camille was patient and gracious with me. She has been a huge part of why my career has shaped the way it has. She's said numerous things that have impacted me, but this one I think of often.
"Define success for yourself. Do your work, stay true to your voice, your ideals, and never compromise who you are”
Camille A Brown