Letter from Julienne Buenaventura
La Academia Pre-professional Student and Nuestro Futuro Scholarship Awardee
June 23, 2020
To the Ballet Hispánico community,
Greetings to all! Mi nombre es Julienne Buenaventura, and I am a proud senior in the class of 2020! This is my second and final year dancing in Ballet Hispánico’s La Academia program, and I am proud to say that I will be continuing my journey in the fall at the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance! Finishing off high school at home in the midst of a global pandemic has been extremely tough, but the opportunity to be part of this special night has been the greatest honor - and a very memorable way to conclude my time at Ballet Hispánico.
I’ve gone through a lot of emotions during my quarantine, ranging from sadness and missing my friends, nostalgia and not feeling like I had enough closure, and very notably, anger from witnessing police brutality, anti-black racism, and countless other injustices against the black and brown community. As it always is, dance provided me with an outlet for my emotions. Working closely with Mr. Rodney Hamilton on this Afro-Cuban piece has been not only fun, but very educational and therapeutic. Some days I would come into the ZOOM room visibly stressed, and before beginning the rehearsal, Mr. Rodney would let me vent and we’d talk. Instead of suppressing my emotions, he gave me the space to feel, and he’d guide me in using them as a basis for my movement.
Now more than ever it is important that we, as artists, learn about the rich history and meaning behind Black/Latinx dance forms, that we no longer whitewash the field and instead celebrate all cultures. This is something that Ballet Hispánico has always had in their mission - I am already blessed to have studied the Dunham technique with Mr. Rodney during the year, and I am so grateful that learning this piece allowed me to dive deeper into Afro-Cuban movement and symbolism.
My training at Ballet Hispánico as a whole has guided me in many facets of my life. The School of Dance community is filled with unique, passionate, and forward-thinking people, students and faculty included. My two years here have been filled with countless classes, history lessons, and discussions, as well as time with myself in the studio. All my experiences in this school have challenged me in new ways, forcing myself to dig deep into myself and make decisions. This is the case with my movement, but also with my interactions as a human being. I’ve accessed greater range and developed a sense of agency - but more importantly, I’ve matured and learned how to carry myself in a variety of situations with dignity. I truly feel confident to leave Ballet Hispánico and enter conservatory, with a deep sense of who I am and what my unique voice has to say.
It is truly a blessing to have taken part in Ballet Hispánico’s Noche Unidos, a special (quarantined) event that celebrates culture and unity through dance. The work that Ballet Hispánico does for the dance field is extremely crucial, and I’m infinitely grateful that BH has had its part in my story.
To many more nights like this!Julienne Buenaventura