Dancing to Change the System
My name is Kelly Robotham. I was born in the Bronx, New York, and moved to Miami at the age of ten. I am a black woman raised by Jamaican parents. I'm extremely independent and hard-working. I’m driven to accomplish everything I set my heart on. Dance has been and still is my life. I love working with kids of all ages and I see myself as a dance mentor, not a dance teacher.
What challenges have you seen in underserved communities that could be improved?
- There are many challenges in underserved communities but I'm very happy to work with Thomas Armour Youth Ballet. This organization aids in removing many obstacles for the younger generation and encourages and pushes for every student's success. I label myself as a dance mentor instead of a dance teacher because I believe in nurturing my dancers to be good people in this world.
Has teaching dance shaped you into the person you are today? If so, how and why?
- Teaching has definitely shaped me into the person I am today! As a dancer, you build yourself to develop tough skin because the dance industry can be very brutal and cut-throat. Teaching dance has softened me in a sense and reminds me that dance doesn't have to be so serious; it assures me that dance should stay fun no matter what age.
Why did you choose dance as a platform to help your community?
- I chose dance as a platform because it has always been a passion of mine. Dance has the power to build one’s self-confidence both physically and mentally. It teaches you how to love and take care of your body. Dance teaches you discipline; it teaches you how to deal with failures and how to pick yourself up after you've fallen.
What advice would you give to the younger generation growing up during these trying times?
- My advice would be "learn how to make the best lemonade with the lemons you're given". These trying times that we are facing in the world today, but we have to figure out ways to deal with them, overcome them, then blossom from the challenges. We can't always allow difficult challenges to take over our lives.
- If you had no limits to the work you're doing in your community how far and big would you want it to go?
- If I had no limits I would deepen my mentorship with my students. In dance, we are given an hour or two at the most for classes. I believe there needs to be more work outside of class such as; retreats, seminars, trips, etc. These opportunities will allow my students to open their eyes and see what the world has to offer. Most of my students haven’t gone further than their five-block radius. And a majority of them live in Miami, Florida but have never been to the beach. I want to show them the beauty of the world, the places they could go! I believe that if they realized what was out there, it would spark a change in their work ethic; it would make them hungry for more.
- What other amazing things are you doing at the moment that we don’t know about?
- I am currently at the very beginning stages of writing a book for teens; specifically teens that are serious dancers. That period of time (middle/high school) can be weird, challenging, confusing. To this day I remember how I felt as a teenager dancing 30 hours a week. I didn't feel much guidance, I didn't feel as if I could talk to someone who understood, so I've been inspired to write a book including a series of short stories followed by advice for young dancers.