Courtney Lewis redefines her self-perception, welcomes future of Atlanta dance

Photo credit Walter Apps

This is a headshot of Courtney Lewis. She is smiling towards the camera. Her hair is shaved close to her scalp. Her neck and shoulders are bare, showing the curve of her collarbone, and a long gold hoop earring follows the slope of her neck.

April 1, 2020
Volume 1 Issue 1
by: Ashley Gibson

Twenty-seven-year-old Courtney Lewis credits the discovery of her authentic self as the most critical moment in her dance career to date.  With that mindset, Lewis has stepped into the Atlanta dance scene with fire and poise. Doubling as a Pilates instructor and current affiliate with Core Dance, Lewis embodies the essence of what it takes to be a freelance dancer in Atlanta today.

Lewis began her training in Baltimore, Maryland at Townson University’s Children’s Dance Division. She attended Carver Center for Arts + Technology for high school and later studied as a scholarship student at the Ailey School for two years. Since then, learning how to honor her natural movement patterns alongside her formal dance training has allotted her freedom to explore her own creativity and artistry. This abandonment of constructs has been pivotal in redefining the way she perceives herself.

“I am a pleasure seeker. Viscerally, it feels like carving through molasses, usually maintaining a consistent rhythm. I feel energy flowing through my body and attempt to embody and enjoy every movement. Aesthetically, I’d say my movement favors an academic structure,” Lewis says, explaining that she has learned to embrace her robust technical background in modern and ballet, rather than run from it.

Since moving to Atlanta over a year and a half ago, Lewis has connected with a multitude of companies in the area, the first being staibdance and Kit Modus. More recently, she has also worked with Benji Stevenson and Core Dance. Participating in Fly on a Wall’s Excuse the Art in early March of this year proved to be a highlight in her dance career thus far. In that program, she danced in works by Fly on a Wall’s Nathan Griswold and fellow Core Dance company member Walter Apps. The notable community building that took place in the creation process and space provided by Fly on a Wall genuinely inspired her.

“To me, dance in Atlanta is curious and unfolding. There is an abundance of talent and creativity housed in this city…” says Lewis. “Atlanta has a richness and soulfulness that I haven’t experienced anywhere else, and I’m thrilled to see where we are headed together.” In the future, Lewis desires to see a greater merge between different organizations in this dance community as well.

Lewis cites Pilates as being the ultimate survival job that has granted her much-needed flexibility within her busy schedule for the past five years. In a typical day, she works at Core Dance from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and then heads straight to the Pilates studio to teach. On her days away from Core, she said that she begins her day with a dance or yoga class and emphasizes the importance of self-care work in her routine.

With a strong emphasis on mental and physical wellbeing, Lewis urges others in this profession: “Surround yourself with humans that encourage and inspire you to continue exploring. Use your resources. Don’t be afraid to say no. Know your worth. Catalogue fleeting moments; refer to them when you need to remember why you love this work.”

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