By Adam Tarr
Graphic by Sara Valbuena
Throughout February, the Las Lomas Black Student Union (LLBSU) has been celebrating Black History Month by showcasing Black Excellence through the LLBSU Speaker Series. The Speaker Series is a set of Zoom meetings usually held on Fridays, in which Black people who are prominent in their fields talk to students and staff about who they are and what they do.
One of these speakers was Ashley Gale, a local Bay Area choreographer, dancer and co-director of Visceral Roots Dance Company. Gale spoke about her upbringing as a dancer and some of her inspirations. Gale grew up in a family of dancers and has danced most of her life, and currently works side jobs related to dancing.
“I was really nervous because I’m a shy person…[but] it’s just like before [getting] on stage, you’re ready to go, so I did enjoy it once the nerves went away.” Gale said. She answered student and staff questions related to her work and presentation and said, “[It] was equally inspirational for myself, even though I created the presentation and everything to go back and reflect on my journey and be able to share it in that way, was such a big deal for me.”
As an Black dancer, Gale faced a barrage of different obstacles through life. “Growing up, I had a lot of ‘oh, you’re so close, but you just didn’t make it,’ or ‘oh, try again next year.’” Gale also outlined how she couldn’t do the splits earlier on in her childhood or jump as high as other kids, but this didn’t stop her. She spent her time walking home from school on her tippy toes to increase her calf strength.
Obstacles are still prevalent even now in her career, though, as she spoke about the vulnerability to one’s insecurities as a dancer. She said, “I think obstacles are part of life, they’re never going to go anywhere, it’s never going to be a walk in the park.” The most current obstacle, COVID-19, presented Gale with yet another barrier: “Usually I’d been teaching in the studio, and we would all be in the same room together and we could just vibe off of each other, and even though Zoom is fun and you can see people, you can’t feel their energy in the same way.” Although these obstacles can be daunting, Gale maintains an accepting view of these obstacles in order to create the best possible environment.