Freedom through Dance
By Hailey Stangebye
Photos by Marshall Shorts
When Lori Lindsey enters a room her presence is distinct. From her posture to the way she shifts her weight, it’s clear that she possesses a wealth of kinesthetic awareness. That cognizant attention to movement is rooted in years of devotion to dance training.
Lori took her first ballet lesson when she was only 3 or 4 years old. Not long thereafter, she expanded her repertoire to styles such as jazz and tap. Then, after seeing the The Whiz with Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, Lori fell in love with the idea of life on Broadway.
Those aspirations came to a halt, though, before Lori reached high school.
“I overheard someone talking about me in a not-so-positive light. They said, basically, that I would never be dancer, that I don’t look like a dancer and that nobody wanted to see me on stage,” Lori says. “I took on their opinion of me and allowed it to define me. You’ve heard that phrase before: ‘Don’t let somebody’s opinion about you define you or or your dreams.’ But I was young. And I did.”
“I took on their opinion of me and allowed it to define me. You’ve heard that phrase before: ‘Don’t let somebody’s opinion about you define you or or your dreams.’ But I was young. And I did.”
Fortunately, Lori was reintroduced to dance as an adult. Today, she performs professionally, and she was recently selected to participate in the Lincoln Theatre’s ‘Backstage at the Lincoln’ local artist showcase. Moreover, she was among five, local artists selected as part of the Harlem Renaissance campaign to go on a trip to Harlem.
“When I dance is when I feel most beautiful,” Lori says. “Dance is freedom. It allows me to do and be whatever I want to without apologies, without caring about anything else or anyone else. When I dance, it’s just a release. Truly.”
“When I dance is when I feel most beautiful.”
Lori also has the ability to use her personal reflection through dance to move those that watch her perform. It’s a personally valuable experience for her, but it’s also a form of expression that she intentionally shares with her audience.
“Whenever I am honored to dance in front of other people, my goal — my intent — is to move them,” Lori say. “Whether it’s to think a different thought, to take action on something, maybe it’s just to brighten their day or to give them hope. It’s more than steps to a song.”
“Whether it’s to think a different thought, to take action on something, maybe it’s just to brighten their day or to give them hope. It’s more than steps to a song.”
That intention informs each of Lori’s movements, and she knows that she’s on the right path when she hears feedback from her audience.
“What really really gets me is when people want to hug me, or they’ll say, ‘This reminded me of my grandmother,’ or ‘You brought me to tears because I’ve been feeling this,’” Lori says. “That, to me, is so much more than, ‘Hey, you did a great job.’ And because I get that response on a consistent basis, I know that I am supposed to dance. I’m supposed to be dancing to change people. To move people.”
“I’m supposed to be dancing to change people. To move people.”
Lori’s recent journey to Harlem as a part of the Harlem Renaissance celebration also encourages her to push boundaries and move forward with dance. In fact, while walking the streets of Harlem, someone stopped her to ask if she was a dancer.
“I’m thinking, ‘There are thousands of dancers walking around New York all the time.’ I don’t know why this person decided to stop and ask me if I was a dancer,” Lori says. “But, looking at me, they thought I was a dancer.”
Not that someone else’s opinion would impact Lori’s work. Despite the obstacles she faced at a young age , or, perhaps, because of them, Lori encourages everyone around her to pursue their passions without fear.
“I just have this hunger to do more with my art,” Lori says. “If you dream bigger, you welcome those things into your life. And I’m starting to see that. I’m dreaming bigger. I’m working hard. I am going after more opportunities than I did in the past.”