Expressing humanity through dancing


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Bradley Shelver started dancing when he was four. He left his home in South Africa when he was 18 and got a scholarship for the Alvin Ailey School in New York. He has now lived and danced in New York for 15 years and can’t imagine going back. When Apartheid ended, the new government cancelled all funding for ballet and opera because they considered it elitist. That’s a shame, says Bradley. Art shouldn’t be for only one group of people.

Bradley likes to divide his time between peforming, creating and teaching. He loves the moment when a student has a breakthrough, and their eyes light up.

Bradley has always been a natural performer. He loves to express emotions without saying anything. He says that a dancer’s main goal is to connect with the audience by showing what it’s like to be human. That can be hard because dancers are always trying to be perfect. But you have to let it go. Stop thinking, and just do it.

“Screw what you look like, and screw the steps,” he tells his student. “You have 2 minutes and 24 seconds to make the audience care about you. That’s what dance is about.”

Originally published on The Columbialists on August 27, 2013