“I’m from Oklahoma City where I grew up dancing at family functions and took that vibe to the studio at age 6. I studied classical dance at Classen School of Advanced Studies & The University of Central Oklahoma. I went the commercial route in LA for 10 years and now living in NY amongst the greatest dancers in the world. What an amazing life I live!

The journey has been one hell of a ride. Being apart of season one of So You Think You Can Dance is when I realized I had a real shot at being a professional dancer. LA gave me the opportunity to work with artists like Rihanna, Kanye, Alicia Keys, & Beyonce. The first international  tour I booked was with Rain(Bi), a K-pop God who had Jamie King as his visual director. It’s moments like these that made me fall in love with production. I started directing concepts for various artists and even creating my own music. Choreography has always been in the forefront of my creativity- working with dance studios across the country, has given me the opportunity to work with so many beautiful young artists. Today, I’m hoping to develop new work to present in front of beautiful New York audience.”

What/who inspires your work?

“The first professional show I ever saw was Alvin Ailey performing Revelations. I’d never seen so many beautiful black dancers. It pushed me to work harder and sparked my curiosity for choreography. My performing Arts high school would bring Denise Vail (Artistic director of Martha Graham Company) to teach class. She performed Lamentations for us. It was like watching my spirit animal reveal itself to me. She was magic!!! I admired the discipline and respect for the technique she required from each dancer. In 2019, I saw Ailey perform Azure Barton’s BUSK and fell in love again. She’s got groove and power! It speaks to me. These days I’m mostly intrigued with the diversity of dancers I find on social media platforms. There are so many beautiful dancers in this world.”

Destini Rogers, a black woman with long braids, dances in blue striped pants in front of a group of people. She stands to the side with her arm over her head.

What, in your opinion, needs an overhaul in the dance community? What stories do we need to rewrite? What structures need a reset?

“1. The dance community needs a publicist & lobbyist to work on our behalf for economic advancement. America should love dance as much as it loves sports- thus providing more jobs and spreading wealth across our industry. 

 

2. Yes, social media is wonderful place for expression, marketing, & connecting with people from all over the world. But it shouldn’t be emphasized in the classroom. We’re missing real connection and it’s starting to feel like we’re in a constant audition. Booo.

 

3. We need to rewrite the boxes we’ve put ourselves in. I’m a contemporary dancer, I’m a ballet dancer, etc. I want to walk in a class or see a show where everyone is unique & many stories and identities are available to experience.”

Destini Rogers, a short haired black woman dances outside in the snow. She wears a checkered coat and a headband in her hair. We see her standing on one leg with pine needles in the foreground.

What are the most vital things for you to give your students in their dance training?

“I want to provide a space for students to celebrate their passion for dance, and tools to help them navigate all of the elements needed to be at their best. Hard work, vulnerability, living in the moment, having high expectations for themselves, and most importantly authenticity. Every time a young dancer tells me they want to make dance a career, I get nostalgic.”

“Like most young dancers, you’re taught from the start that ballet is the foundation of dance. This problematic rhetoric has been the source for many negative experiences I’ve had in this industry. Body type, race, class, and gender are all defined in ways that didn’t include me when I looked in the mirror. The most memorable moment of inequality was on one of my first big auditions in LA. The choreographer divided all 200 of us up into groups by race. It was quite traumatizing.”

How have you experienced / seen inequality in the dance community as a dancer and a dance educator?

“I’d personally like to have more connection, collaboration, and experiences with more educators. There’s so much we can learn from one another that would make huge contributions to our work and how it effects our industry. We need to be diligent about staying open to new ideas and continuing our education no matter how old we get. The younger generation needs to see educators of all backgrounds supporting one another. 

 

We can use our platforms to show authenticity. Now more than ever the world needs to celebrate uniqueness. Let our craziest creative ideas come light. No holding back. We need to create safe spaces for play. Shits getting too serious.”

In what ways can dance educators "level up" for the higher good of the dance community? In what ways should we be using our platform right now?

Destini Rogers, a short haired black woman dances in the snow with her hand over her head, a headband on her head, and a serious look on her face.