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A note from Valerie, 2018 scholarship recipient

Extraordinary, liberating, magical, invigorating… these are just a few of the words that describe my experience at Sweet Molasses Blues 2018. I live in New York City, and recently became familiar with blues dance and all that NYC has to offer on blues. I used to dance and perform far more frequently and recently have found myself losing touch with my artistic self, as the demands of everyday life and graduate school took over me. Blues dance is something that sparked the old flame I had years ago when dancing and musical theatre were my only priority. When I heard about the scholarship for Sweet Molasses Blues that Blues Dance New York was offering I knew, for my sanity, that I had to apply. I was overjoyed upon hearing of my acceptance. Mostly because I would be able to immerse myself in the blues environment and learn as much as I can, but also because I would be able to be surrounded by people who understand the magic of this dance.

As a lover of blues music and dance I couldn’t wait to head up to Boston for the weekend; however, I was a little nervous since I was going up alone and did not know too many people who would be attending. Sweet Molasses Blues went above and beyond my expectations. I was housed with a wonderful and warm human who made me feel at home immediately. The people who organized the event, as well as the attendees, were friendly and oh-so talented. With the fantastic and diverse workshops during the day and the spectacular social dances at night, I truly felt like I was given a years’ worth of experience in three days. Some of the workshops included, “Isolate That Bad Ass’, “Get Your Feet in the Sand”, “Harlem Slow Drag”, and “Strut and Stride”. The teachers were experienced and approachable and cared about what they were teaching. The dancers on the dance floor at night guided and helped you. There were also a few competitions, and while I did not compete, I found it fascinating to watch and to pick up steps. I found the dance spaces to be great as well. The workshops were held in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I felt as if I were attending a dance school. The social dances were held in a large hall in West Cambridge Youth Center, which included a stage where incredible bands and singers performed. There was a late-night dance too (WITH SNACKS)! They were held in a quirky little children’s center (the last late-night was held in a super cool after-hours bakery!) Lastly, the live music and DJs were to die for, as well as the soul food dinner on the last night! Being able to dress up and dance the night away with beautiful people was an experience I will not soon forget. This weekend ignited my soul and brought me back to life.