Engaging Atlanta: Indya Childs

Photo Credit: Todd Rosenberg
Indya stands in a black sports bra for this black and white photo. She is gesturing with one hand on her head and the other curled at her chest. Her gaze is pointing downwards.

November 19, 2021
Volume 3 Issue 1

DanceATL: As part of an internal initiative to better address the needs of our community in its entirety, DanceATL is conducting brief interviews with dance organizations around Atlanta to learn and act upon how we can serve you as a vital and important member of our community. Our goal is to gain a better understanding of how we can support you, build a connected network of dance organizations and artists, and institute changes that can act as an example for artistic communities nationwide. Some of the questions we will be asking relate to whether or not you currently use any of our services, what your biggest challenges are right now, your vision for the community, and others.

DanceATL: Can you introduce yourself?

Indya: My name is Indya Childs, and I am a professional dancer and emerging choreographer. I have a B.A. in Dance from Kennesaw State University. I am currently in the process of developing the Peace, Love, and Dance Project and cultivating my voice as a choreographer.

DanceATL: What are you most passionate about when it comes to dance, when it comes to movement and community and what you do?

Indya: I am passionate about creating safe spaces for all artists to feel that they can be their authentic selves in the space. I like to go against the idea of “leave your problems at the door” by allowing the overlap of the individual self and the artist. I am working on this within myself by allowing my choreographic voice to be influenced by things that I am passionate about, such as social justice issues. I encourage everyone I work with to do the same — to welcome everything about themselves into the process and into the space. 

DanceATL: How do you define community?

Indya: For me, it’s a group of people that provide support for one another. This support can look different in different spaces, but overall a place where people can check in with each other. I am currently investigating how I can find a community within myself. Though I am just one body, I’m asking myself: “How can I support and be there for myself? What do I need?” I feel it is important to have these personal investigations and check-ins, so that when you step inside of a community or create a community, you can reach out and say, “I see a lot of us feel similar about this. Maybe we can create a plan of action together,” etc.

I also feel that it is important to sometimes step outside of your community and see what’s happening in another community — just constantly checking in with each other and providing support when needed. 

DanceATL: Who or what makes up your community?

Indya: I am in love and committed to the arts, so I enjoy being around people that hold art, especially dance, in a special place. I am also fueled by people that refuse to give up, no matter what life hands them. That energy is my community. 

DanceATL: Define being involved and engaged in a community and, if you can, give an example of what you’re doing inside a community when you’re being affected and engaged.

Indya: Currently, I am working at Emory University as an Arts and Social Justice Fellow, and it’s so incredible!  I’m working with students that are not dancers. They are used to traditional learning such as writing research papers, thinking, sitting, etc., so inviting them to use dance and choreography as tools to think about social justice is amazing. The powerful exchanges that the students and I are having are truly incredible. One for sure is to witness students reconnecting with their bodies and allowing themselves to be the natural movers that they are. I also recognize that this collaboration can be uncomfortable for everyone. I am put in a position of being a facilitator, and students are asked to have an open mind when learning about the world of dance that they didn’t know they were signing up for. However, the fun part is that everyone is up for the challenge. Everyone is giving 100 percent. Through this unique collaboration, I have learned so much as an emerging choreographer. 

Due to the pandemic, I have developed a new hunger for dance. Thanks to ELEVATE Atlanta and Invest Atlanta, many artists, including myself, received the necessary funding to create accessible art for the City of Atlanta. It was so needed. I tried to attend and support every event because I know how many artists felt when the world was in quarantine. Now that the world has started to reopen, I feel that we took full advantage of it. The dance work, Tokoliana, that I produced through ELEVATE Atlanta, was performed on many different stages. Some were concrete, some grass, some on Marley — anywhere where an audience could safely gather. The best part about ELEVATE was to see audience members that just happen to stumble upon a performance and say, “Hey, what’s going on here? How much is this?” To see people’s excitement when they find out it’s free was so rewarding! I have made so many connections with community members because they have attended a free performance. In light of the pandemic, this year’s ELEVATE festival was much needed, and it was so incredible to see so many artists making and creating again. I would love to be able to find a way that artists would be able to create sustainable work that remains accessible for audiences members.  

DanceATL: If you can give an example of something the Atlanta dance community is lacking or is in need of.

Indya: I don’t want to speak for the whole community, but I’ve personally been working on being more supportive. One way I have been working on this is by attending more performances. I feel that it is important as an artist to step outside of your personal creative space sometimes to see what others are doing. I feel this also creates more possibilities of collaboration from mingling with people you may not normally encounter. Again, I don’t want to speak for the entire community, but this is something that I am noticing within myself and am working on.  

 I don’t know if this is needed, but I would love to see DanceATL possibly put together some type of annual event for Atlanta artists to attend . . . maybe a weekend choreographers showcase, wellness event, a seminar, or a holiday mixer. I don’t know — something to bring artists together to mingle and discuss what they have been working on, a chance for emerging choreographers, independent artists, upcoming dance companies, to all meet. Lastly, I have been seeking more mentorship as an artist. 

DanceATL: What do you think DanceATL does currently? 

Indya: I feel that DanceATL is becoming a strong resource for Atlanta dancers. From the well-organized website, newsletter, and social media accounts, I feel that artists are able to capture a good glimpse of what’s happening around the city because of the organization. It’s also a good place for artists that have just moved to Atlanta to get a jump start on finding themselves within the Atlanta dance community. I constantly refer artists to DanceATL. 

DanceATL: Are there other things that you could have seen from DanceATL or where is there room for improvement or what are new services that would be of use to you?

Indya: I try to stay connected with the dance community as much as I can, especially DanceATL because it is a good resource, but I feel that it is a bit distant. I’m not sure if you all still hold meetings for community members to come and speak due to the pandemic, but I recall when DanceATL first launched a few years ago there were community meetings at different locations around the city. I really enjoyed that! My only concern is that the organization doesn’t become distant, meaning that there is no longer space for conversation within the organization and it only caters towards one community instead of everyone. From the steps taken from this organization, such as holding these very interviews with artists, I don’t see the organization going in that direction, which is why I am happy to support DanceATL! I look forward to becoming more involved with DanceATL. 

DanceATL: is there a reason you have not become a DanceATL member or aren’t involved?

Indya: To be transparent, I haven’t had the time to really look at all the amazing things DanceATL has to offer, which is why I haven’t joined. I think it is a great organization, and it is something I definitely want to be a part of. I believe that one factor that might deter artists from joining is the membership fee. 

DanceATL: Who do you think currently engages with DanceATL?

Indya: Honestly, I think all artists have engaged with DanceATL in some capacity. This is clear from the engagement with the newsletter and social media. For myself, I have been very active with the social media postings, as I have found many job and performance opportunities through the Monday Moves and Thursday Twirls posts on Instagram. I have also submitted some of my own events and audition calls to reach a larger audience through DanceATL. 

DanceATL: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Indya: I have faith in this organization. I have faith that this will be something that will be here for years to come as a growing resource for artists.

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