We had the good fortune of connecting with Camryn Stafford and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Camryn, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I have been extremely fortunate, having immense access to dance for the majority of my life. Dancing since the age of 3, I have had the wonderful opportunity to train at Dallas Black Dance Academy, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, The Ailey School, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, the Joffrey Ballet School, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. While I am extremely grateful to have experienced these opportunities, I recognize that many others do not have the same access and opportunity to dance.

There is a great contrast between how I viewed dance and how minorities and those from underrepresented communities may view dance. Because I am surrounded by dancers and artists alike it can become easy to take advantage of the constant access to resources, while dance may be viewed as implausible for other minorities with less visibility.

Turning Tables is a project I conceived in the Spring of 2017 to provide minorities with access and visibility to dance and to bring attention to the discriminatory practices found in dance. Commencing with a successful dance performance fundraiser in the spring of 2018, Turning Tables Project consisted of thought-provoking pieces that brought attention to the underrepresentation of minorities in Ballet, the unfair standard that minorities have to overcome, and the implicit bias that society puts toward minorities. Turning Tables is now a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit organization, with the mission of providing outreach dance programs to underrepresented communities and to provide underrepresented youth with the opportunity to participate in order to make dance more accessible to everyone.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
A native of Dallas, Texas, Camryn Stafford credits the beginning of her dance education to Dallas Black Dance Academy and Booker T. Washington HSPVA, where she had the opportunity to dance on the Allegro Performing Ensemble and Repertory Dance Company II and train at various summer programs including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, the Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Debbie Allen Dance Academy. A current student at Princeton University studying African American Studies with certificates in Dance and Entrepreneurship, Camryn has performed works by Netta Yerushalmy and Christopher Ralph and is a member of DiSiac Dance Company. ​
Camryn Stafford is the Founder and Executive Director of Turning Tables Inc. Through Turning Tables Camryn has provided students and professional dancers with a platform to choreograph on select topics of diversity and inclusion, allowed student volunteers to give back to the Dallas community by teaching dance classes to underrepresented youth at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Dallas, and given striving dancers opportunities to continue their training through SITT, a summer program hosted virtually by Turning Tables. Camryn has choreographed multiple evening-length pieces, for Turning Tables to inform the audience about issues of underrepresentation, implicit bias, and unfair standards in the dance world.

Camryn has been awarded dance high Honors, highest academic honors, great service to the dance department, various academic scholarships, and dance guild scholarship from Booker T. Washington HSPVA, as well as the Peter B. Lewis scholarship and Outstanding Work by a freshman from the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University.

A striving professional dancer and arts administrator, Camryn hopes to continue to use her platform to advocate for social change and reform through her initiatives.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank all of the amazing choreographers and dancers who have participated in our shows and programs, TaKiyah Wallace and Bridget L. Moore for their mentorship, and Booker T. Washington HSPVA for their support.

Website: https://www.turningtablesproject.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/turningtablesproject/

Image Credits
Alex Travell

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