Photo by David Leong
“Being an adopted Asian American growing up in a suburb of Alabama, I started questioning why my race was different than a lot of my classmates at a pretty young age,” Rosalie Anthony writes to open an essay that won her a scholarship from Asian Youth 4 Civic Engagement this summer. In it she talks about how her in her scholarship submission dance she reflects on her identities as American and Asian especially in light of being Asian American in the current political landscape. Here we talked with her to learn more about that dance and the road that led her to this point in her dance career with a strong foundation at Vestavia Dance.
How did you first get into dance, and what were your early years like?
I am adopted from China. When my mom first adopted me, she realized my gross motor skills were delayed, so she decided to put me in dance at The Dance Foundation when I was 3 and saw that helped with developing those skills. Then we moved to Vestavia Dance and became a part of Vestavia Hills United Methodist. I danced there for about 10 years. Ms. Angel White and Mrs. Kelly Avery were mentors during my fundamental years at Vestavia Dance. They really inspired and supported me to get where I am today. In middle school, I wanted to study dance on a more rigorous level and decided to go to Alabama School of Fine Arts. I felt like it really prepared me for the college career of dance I wanted to pursue.
Can you talk some about your relationship with Asian culture?
My mom had tried to get us in touch with Asian culture growing up, took us on a trip to China in second grade and hired a tutor to teach us Chinese. I had never fully connected with it, though, because I had a grown up in the US. During the pandemic and all the social movements going on, I thought it was a perfect time to reflect on that.
How did you reflect on that through your scholarship submission dance?
In my submission I portray my three identities: Asian, American and dancer. Here’s what I wrote about it in my essay: “Through my art, I hope to demonstrate the internal conflict I feel. I chose those this song, ‘We Are Animals’ because the artist, Yo-Yo Ma, is a successful Asian American musician, who is playing with, or assimilated in, a primarily Asian quartet. It is only an excerpt of the entire song to represent this is a snapshot of where I am right now in my self-reflection journey…The movement I chose to start smaller and gradually get bigger, primarily, because in the beginning race is not something that is significant to children, and as a minority, I have grown to learn what stereotypes there are and how you are treated differently in different environments.”
How are you pursuing dance at the collegiate level?
Currently I am at Point Park University, one of the top five conservatories in the country, and getting a bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in ballet and a minor in French as well. There I study ballet, point, modern, partnering dances and a few social dance forms like African and an Italian social dance. I am interested in researching dance and have had some work published in academic journals, about mentor and mentee relationships since dance is a cultural tradition that has been passed down orally. Currently I am researching contemporary dance and how social media has affected how we view dance and how dance is written down.
What are some of your hopes and dreams for the future?
I want to look at joining a dance company, and I am looking to possible get my MFA. This past year I taught with UAB Art Play and some private lessons, and I love teaching. I want to continue to advocate for dance and the arts and diversity in the arts and share what I love to do.