BA Spotlight - Kelsey Guy
Meet Kelsey Guy, a Memphis native who is currently residing in the LA dance circle. The 25-year-old balances her schedule between four dance studios in the Los Angeles area: Acceleration, Revolution, And Sofie Dance Studio of Atwater and Mid City.
Her road to dance wasn’t streamlined. A considerable “late bloomer” compared to dance industry trends, she decided to find her niche in high school after being dissatisfied with other extracurriculars. Kelsey stumbled upon dance after researching studios in the area using her phonebook. She settled on Studio 413 in Collierville, TN.
“Being naive, I thought ‘I’m a black girl, I have rhythm’ [laughs]. It wasn’t a diverse studio. It was predominately Caucasian. These 12-year-olds are schooling me. They were so soulful and vibrant. I was like, ‘I can’t keep up’.”
But despite her initial hesitation, she continued to pursue dance, eventually, choosing it as her major while she attended Mississippi State University. Her commitment to the practice eventually led to a cathartic profession.
“It’s been really interesting. When it’s your job and also your passion, it can be really taxing,” she says. “But when I’m dancing every single day, it’s such a relief. It’s almost like meditation. It’s free therapy.”
As she approaches her 26th birthday, she reflects on some of the experiences that matured her. From performing the Big Chop, establishing a more holistic lifestyle, and healing emotional wounds, we sat down to reflect how she’s transformed into a secure and driven woman.
But when I’m dancing every single day, it’s such a relief. It’s almost like meditation. It’s free therapy.
On Her Morning Routine:
“The same thing I do at night I to do in the morning. I use this really basic [coconut] face wash, the I just put Vitamin D oil or Vitamin E cream on. It gives me a little of that moisture, and it gives my skin elasticity. I try to get all natural products. When I say that it sounds pretentious [chuckles] but I try to get things that aren’t expensive. I love it. I feel like the older I get the less of a ‘to do’ it is.”
On The Liberation She Found By Cutting Her Hair:
“It was something that I thought about for a long time. I was either going to get the $500 dollar sew-in or cut it all off. I was trying to find ‘ a look’. One night, I actually did it myself. I went to my bathroom, and I looked at myself and I said, ‘I don’t need this, I’m so much more than my hair ‘ as India Arie once said. I literally just took scissors to it and I just felt so much freedom. I could actually just see myself for the first time, in a long time. I had nothing to hide behind. Everyone else could see me. They were like ‘Your face is just so beautiful!’ And I thought, is it? [she clutches her face]. A bunch of insecurities just went out the door. Workwise, I thought people were going to think a certain way because of my natural texture. But I was just like, ‘this is how it grows out of my head’. It’s really opened my up as a person.”
“I have friends who have sew-ins and they look amazing. And they switch it up a lot. But it’s not a part of my personality. I had apps on my phone where I could try this one and this one [different hairstyles]. It was just consuming me. One night, I actually did it myself. I went to my bathroom, and I looked at myself and I said I don’t need this, I’m so much more than my hair.”
“I can focus on whether I get up and stretch in the morning and read. I don’t have to feel insecure because it’s ‘nappy’. Just those kind of stereotypes. I feel so at ease now. It’s definitely brought out some confidence in me.”
On What Scares Her and Inspires Her About Turning A Year Older:
“I feel like this year, being 25 and doing more than I did at 18, 19 years old, I think it’s only going to get better from here. I don’t know if I’m really scared of it anymore. If you would’ve asked me this last year, I would’ve said I’m terrified. But, I’m never going to be this young again. I’m really just going to be in the moment. I hope I don’t take it for granted. That’s what scares me – just seeing that it’s a privilege and not a burden. I’ve changed a lot.”
On Overcoming Childhood Insecurities
“I think when I was younger I didn’t even realize I had daddy issues. I was always like, ‘my mom is everything. I don’t need a dad’. But as I got older and I started having relationships with men I realized, oh snap, this is a thing. My dad was a hot-mess-express. I realized when I got into relationships with guys I just expected them to be the bare minimum. Like this is what I get, this is better than nothing. And that travels over to other parts of life, like being afraid of success, being afraid to be seen, and just being afraid to be a woman. And to not receive genuine love from a man before, whether it’s a father or anyone – I never experienced that in a healthy way. That’s come out more as I’ve gotten older.”
“I’ve always been a super emotional person. When I’m happy, I shooting butterflies, but when I’m sad, I’m so dark. So learning how to handle those emotions in healthy and safe ways and letting them come out. You can’t hold them in or else they’ll destroy you. When I cry now, I love it. It’s such a release. I don’t see it as a weakness anymore.”
“Just knowing that I’m capable. Even as a kid, I never knew what I was capable of, and I’m just now discovering that at 24, 25 years old. Realizing that I’m more than people’s idea of me. Just have a visual of who I want to be, and believing that I can accomplish that. Versus, ‘Oh that’s Kelsey. She’s great, but she’s never going to peak. She’s always going to be mediocre [laughs]’.” “That self-doubt, it comes, and when it does it’s so strong. And just knowing that openly loving yourself is valid and you do really have to love yourself before you love anyone else or let people love you. I feel like I attract people who see relationships that way. If you’re creeping around the corner and you’re waiting for someone to tell you how great you are, then who knows what’s going to come your way.”
On How She Takes Control of Her Health:
“I just feel really empowered by it. The fear of not having healthcare – you feel like you’re out on your own, and there are certainly some things you need state-of-the-art facilities for. God forbid, I get cancer or another something that’s really aggressive, I’m going to want health insurance for that. I’ve been really blessed. When I get sick it’s maybe a cold or something I can take care of myself. Being a dancer, you’re very in tune with your body.”
On Her Favorite Remedies:
“Ginger, lemon cayenne. I’ll flush it [colds]. All the other things [medicines] just kind of mask it and I want to feel healthy and strong. It just makes me feel empowered to learn how to take care of myself. There’s still a lot to learn. But it’s empowering to know those resources are available if in time I don’t have government health care.”
On Her Future Goals:
“I have a commercial agent, that’s something I’m really jumping into. I’m trying to get into that Gap commercial. I’m open to it all. I want to use these big eyes that I’ve just grown into. I don’t want to be a one-trick pony. Being out in LA, I think ‘I might as well’. Being a dancer in LA, there are so many dancers. However I’m going to get in, you have to pay your dues. Whether I book a commercial and it takes me to commercial dance, or I book a dance job and it takes me into choreographing, I’m not going to turn down any opportunities. I’m not going to put myself in a box.”
“At the same time, the world is in such distress, I feel like I should be an activist. It’s hard. You want to pursue your creative gifts but you also know that the world needs a lot of love and the help of people who are privileged. It’s a battle.”
“Some people are like, you are giving back, you teach kids. It’s beautiful in a sense that I’m teaching children how to learn strengthen their bodies at such a young age, but at the same time, I do want to find a portal to do what I love without getting anything in return for it.”
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