The Dance Warriors project is an artistic response to political and social issues, in collaboration with dancers across the country. This project started as my response to our changing political climate and my desire to make an impact for the better. This is my way to use Denver dance photography to raise awareness about the issues that face us today. Shedding light on sexual assault has finally become a reality with the MeToo movement. It seems only now do assault survivors have a real platform, a credible voice. When #whyididn’trepost started trending, I knew this topic had to be the next installment of the Dance Warriors project. I have worked with Karlyn many times on personal photography projects as well as for her ballet school, Park Hill Dance Academy. I was thrilled to add her voice and her dance expression to the conversation.
Interview with Karlyn on Sexual Assault
Tell me a bit about yourself.
I was a professional ballerina with the San Diego City Ballet and the Charleston Ballet Theatre. Dance is my one true love in life, sometimes to a fault. I am also an anorexia survivor and I was hospitalized for the disease in 2010. I began to see dance more as a way to heal and grow and push myself to my own limits and not those imposed on me by others. I realized that there was more to dance than being perfect and sometimes the imperfections are also beautiful.
Why are you passionate about the issues surrounding sexual assault?
I am passionate about sexual assault issues because I was very often a target for unwanted sexual advances at a very young age. I got assaulted in 8th grade by two juniors in high school at a party in the basement. I never disclosed because I felt like I deserved it for being at a party with older boys. I never identified it as rape until I was much older in counseling for a bunch of other things. Aside from making sure our younger girls understand what assault is, I think it’s also empowering them to come forward if they feel like something has happened to them.
How has dance helped you express yourself?
Dance helps me channel a lot of different things. But in a lot of ways, it is a way for me to feel powerful in a world where I feel invisible. Dance helps me to not feel helpless, both when I am dancing and when I am teaching. I know that all the girls who attend Park Hill Dance Academy have a safe space to dance and talk about the world and there is no judgment. Every day I wake up knowing that with dance, I can still make a difference in the lives that I teach and inspire.
What do you think is the intersection between art and politics?
Art is a great way to get people to see the world differently. I feel like in our current political environment, artists have an opportunity to really get involved.