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2 Sep

‘Why Not Us: Southern Dance’ Expands On The Tradition

‘Why Not Us: Southern Dance’ Expands On The Tradition

The 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture was a really special weekend for everybody in attendance. Held on the famed Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in Recent Orleans, the inaugural ESSENCE Film Festival highlighted excellence, innovation, and creativity by Black visionaries each in front of and behind the camera.

For more of all the things you missed on the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE.

On July 1, Disney, Andscape, and ESPN+ had a screening for an original documentary show titled Why Not Us: Southern Dance. Executive produced by NBA All-Star Chris Paul; the eight-episode series takes an in-depth have a look at Southern University’s Fabulous Dancing Dolls.

Within the intimate screening, it showed just how rigorous and sometimes stressful it’s throughout the grueling audition process for this historic dancing group. The episode was particularly emotional, especially for the young women who weren’t fortunate enough to make the cut. It also make clear the issue of choosing potential Dancing Dolls from the coach’s standpoint, and the sadness of seeing someone who worked so hard for something, have their dream deterred momentarily.

After the episode concluded, ESPN producer Jalaine Edwards conducted a discussion concerning the series, its production, and all the things else that went into its’ creation. Alongside Paul, the panel included the Dancing Dolls coach Dr. Akai Smith, and SU Dolls Kyre Walker and Arielle Brooks. Upon starting the candid conversation, Paul expressed his excitement concerning the film, followed by Edwards posing the query, “is there a particular skill or quality that you simply’re searching for whenever you’re seeing a possible Doll?”

“There’s nobody particular skill or quality, we search for the women to be teachable, coachable, and trainable,” Smith responded. “And just have a passion for dance, and a humility for all times, and the wish to be a part of a corporation that is greater than them. So, if we see that through their dance, they usually’re showing that in how they perform – that’s that shining light that we search for.”

The method to earn a spot as a Dancing Doll isn’t easy, to say the least. In truth, these young women must audition every yr, no matter in the event that they made the team previously. Brooks spoke how she prepares, and the way self-confidence is essential during this annual ordeal.

“Really and truly, I just tell myself with anything, nothing is guaranteed,” Brooks said. “Just staying humble. It’s nerve-wracking, it’s scary, but so long as you trust in your ability, trust in God, anything is feasible.”

Lately, HBCU culture has develop into more mainstream, with Nike incorporating specific Black universities of their products, in addition to the success of shows equivalent to All-American: Homecoming on The CW. Paul spoke to the importance of the Why Not Us documentary series, and the way critical it’s to inform these stories to a bigger audience.

“We were blessed and fortunate with ESPN and Disney to have the ability to inform the story of North Carolina Central Basketball, we did FAMU Football, and now getting the chance to do Southern’s Fabulous Dancing Dolls – its nothing prefer it,” Paul stated with a smile. “That is all a part of the culture.”

“Simply to have the ability to present this attitude, it’s one among those things that you simply don’t take with no consideration,” he added. “All of us are attempting to realize various things, and different lanes, but there’s all the time the same start line. And to see that with these ladies is certainly amazing.”

As a Dancing Doll success is decided each on and off the sector. The chance to bop in front of the Human Jukebox is a dream come true for many, but any member of this popular dance team has to also maintain a certain level within the classroom as well. Every girl on the squad has a 3.0 or higher, which adds to the “level of excellence” attributed to the Fabulous Dancing Dolls.

“There’s a typical of sophistication that we possess,” Smith said. “There’s a level of excellence that we’ve got. I feel that what makes the Dancing Dolls stand out amongst other HBCU dance lines is just that uniqueness. Not only in how we dance, but how we stock ourselves.”

Why Not Us: Southern Dance premieres August 11 on ESPN+. For more of all the things you missed on the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, visit our official video content hub HERE.

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