Among the artists participating in the upcoming Making Moves Dance Festival is an immensely gifted ballet dancer, Khadijah Munajj. At just 18 years old, Khadijah is the founder and choreographer of La Vie Ballet Company. Munajj was an apprentice with New York Theatre Ballet, at the age of 16, where she has choreographed for the company’s school. She also trained, rehearsed, and performed with NYTB company. A year later Munajj enrolled in Dance Theatre of Harlem school where she had the opportunity to perform ballets created on her.
Previous to her career in ballet, Khadijah was a competitive figure skater. She plans to participate in MMDF to get her work out there to the community. "I believe art brings people together peacefully when done right," She says. "And I have the vision and commitment to offer just that. I still have a lot to experience, but what better way than to start at MMDF? The JCAL community has done so much for me, I want to give that back"
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1. What inspired you to commit to being an artist? How did you choose dance as your art-form? Our audience would love to hear about moments that you can pinpoint that influenced you to pursue dance as a career.
An internal passion for the art itself pushed me to commit to being a dancer. Ever since I was little I was surrounded by music, visual art, and dancing. The fact that I couldn't see myself not dancing really pushed me to dedicate myself to this art form. As long as I can remember, since the age of 4, I've always been dancing and creating, also the athleticism that comes with it fills that side of me that is an athlete. From the age of 10 to 13, I was a competitive figure skater, which included my dancing creativity. My family recognizing what I have and the support and inspiration they gave me, kept me going and striving for the best in myself and my art form. Having a father that is a musician as well was and still is a big inspiration to me. I've had a great deal of memories in the dance world, but one that will always stick with me that an instructor and mentor to me said, "It would be a tragedy to not see Khadijah dance, the world has to witness her beauty." Also, the opportunities I have been granted encouraged me to strive.
2. Regarding your upcoming performance, what are some special elements of your work that you'd like to share with us?
Special moments in this piece is that it is not all Ballet, I have added the Horton technique to my choreography. Although I have trained in Horton, one of my company members, dear friend, and pas de deux partner is a student at Alvin Ailey, he is trained all year round in the Horton technique. I'm very grateful that he has helped me fulfill and execute those moments. The audience can expect a romantic, deliberate, daring performance of a fairytale.
3. What offers you inspiration for your work? What are the things in your "universe" that give you motivation to make your work?
I feel as if everything inspires me to create. Music for me is a big part of my inspiration, the way the music makes me move or feels gets me started on the process. Another inspiration for me is seeing how I can incorporate the talent of other dancers into my choreography.
4. What are your goals and aspirations going forward as a dancer; an artist?
My goals moving forward as a dancer are to keep perfecting my dancing and to keep finding my own way of moving, and to join a company. My goals as a choreographer and having my own company are to create and collaborate with dancers to bring beauty in the world, to put everything I have learned in my dancing years and put it all together and make it something different, to be out of the box in my own way.