I need a fair measure of beginner’s luck to warrant further pursuit of any craft. It took two days of basketball camp for me to realize that I have terrible hand–eye coordination and a basketball uniform would never be my strongest suit. Dance, however, just fit. I started lessons at the age of 3 and was hooked. Senior year of high school, my studio director urged me to study dance in college. She saw my potential long before I ever saw it myself, and gave me the push I needed.
At Oklahoma City University, dance shifted from after-school activity to professional training. Abysmal turnout and knock knees meant Don Quixote was not in the cards. Jazz, however, felt as natural as breathing. I had college crushes on Jack Cole, Bob Fosse and Luigi. I focused on new possibilities, adding dimension to my performance vocabulary with singing and acting, and spent summers performing with Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. I walked into my first audition having never read audition sides, and the summer before my senior year I was Diana Morales in A Chorus Line.
Through theater dance I could communicate ideas and accomplish a greater good. Careers of service run in my family. Hutchings Health Care is my father’s medical practice. His family owns Hutchings Funeral Home, and they’ve been in that business in my hometown of Macon, Georgia, since 1895. His parents also worked in local politics—his father was appointed the second black member of the Macon school board in 1969, facilitating the continued integration of public schools. My mother built a career as a news anchor, and later became a teacher. Her parents also worked as educators. Following their lead, dance is how I fulfill a greater calling to communicate, heal, teach and effect change in society.
Theater inspires humanitarianism as a shared sanctuary of catharsis where we experience the most joyful and most tragic parts of life. As an original cast member of Hamilton, a favorite moment of mine was our Tony Awards performance sans prop muskets to stand against gun violence and the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. We also had cast meetings with Black Lives Matter members to facilitate informed dialogue about discrimination. I am most proud as an artist when using my platform for social progress.
So, dance lessons as a toddler have overgrown into a superhuman philanthropic vision of world peace. Art is expansive in that way, and I am grateful that dance has opened up so many opportunities. Dance is not my only love, but it is the place I first realized I have something to give that the world needs, and it is the place I return to when I feel lost. Dance is home; my base camp from where I try to the change the world.