By Walter Rutledge
In 2015 O&A NYC Editor-in-Chief Walter Rutledge interviewed Debbie Allen at the Faison Firehouse Theater for Dance Noir Magazine (DNM). The print article would discuss her relationship with Katherine Dunham. The video was produced as visual notes for the upcoming Dunham article. When the magazine suspended publication, out of respect for DNM Founder/Editor-in-Chief Carol Lloyd, we held the material with hopes of eventually printing the article for DNM. After eight years Ms. Allen’s words remain relevant, inspiring and informative and should be shared. We call this first installment Empathy.
Empathy gives us the power to experience the world and people we encountered with compassion and insight. The ability to understand others feelings of joy and pain, successes and disappointments, and happiness and challenges is directly linked to the individual’s own life experiences. To understand someone else’s disappointment, you must have been disappointed. To feel others pain, you too have been hurt. To fight injustice, you were wronged.
Empathy (Part One)- A Conversation with Debbie Allen
Truly creative people have strong empathic abilities. The power to share focused energy with others, to communicate across language, artistic medium, and (hopefully) time. They fearlessly transfer their individual truth into universal themes that touch all fortunate enough to experience it. Debbie Allen is one of these extraordinarily individuals.
Originally the interview was schedule to last ten minutes. Ms. Allen graciously shared her experience for almost an hour. We discussed her early career, the present state of dance, dancers and dance makers, directing vs. choreographing and of course Katherine Dunham.