Volunteer Spotlight : Avianna Perez

“People with smiling, shining faces, people of all backgrounds, from all walks of life, converging in the park, singing, dancing and celebrating together.”

Dance Parade, Inc. is a volunteer supported non-profit organization! It is the dedication, expertise and rhythm of these brave few that are solely responsible for the success of the event and all the background work that goes on all year long leading up to the parade and festival. Every month, we choose a different volunteer to spotlight.   We ask them a few questions to let you know who they are, where they’ve come from and where they see themselves in the future.

How did you first stumble upon Dance Parade?

Two years ago the studio I teach at was involved in the One Love drum circle and I joined in as a poi dancer. We welcomed the parade into the park and it was fantastic to receive and give back all that energy. I was so thrilled to find such a vibrant celebration of dance.

What is your current role in Dance Parade?

I’m a DP Liaison helping with outreach. I’m also involved in curating DanceFest.

What is your favorite style of dance to watch? to participate in?

I will watch and enjoy virtually all forms of dance. I’m endlessly fascinated by the many ways our bodies can move, evoke, interpret and express. As for participating, I’m a contact improv junkie. Contact jams are my church.

What is your dance background?

I grew up as a gymnast. I came to dance via theater in college, where I started my training in modern. Since then my focus has expanded to include all forms of improvisation, and I have a strong penchant for dance-theater and dance with narrative.

What does the Dance Parade slogan “United We…Dance Parade” mean to you?

“United We…Dance Parade” harks on New York City’s recent history while proposing one of many ways forward. To me, the slogan speaks to NYC’s resilience and to the potential of us making something bigger and better than any of us could do alone.

What dance group are you most looking forward to seeing this year in the parade?

Too many to list! Looking forward to it all!

If you could pick a Grand Marshall for this year’s parade….who would it be?

The first person that comes to mind is Elizabeth Streb.  She’s a powerhouse, she’s inventive, and she does things her own way.  I’ve always gotten the impression from her that she’s strongly rooted in her own vision of movement, and surefooted in her path to bring it to light.  She doesn’t seem concerned with fitting into anyone else’s idea of what dance is – instead, she’s out to do her own thing. It’s so inspiring to see someone share their gifts with that kind of confidence, and in doing do, expanding the world of what dance is (and could be) for everyone. I hope to do the same with my own work one day.

Part of volunteering has a lot to do with strong leadership skills and major teamwork skills….if you were to pick a volunteer of the month…who would you choose?

I would have to say LA Kilpatrick. She keeps so much together and does it all with a smile.

If you could pick another country to hold a Dance Parade and Festival….which would it be?

Maybe someplace in Europe, where the arts are supported and thrive. But really, there’s no place like NYC!

Volunteering at a non profit organization can at times be daunting and frustrating with limited personnel and limited funding….what is it that keeps you coming back for more and more?

Two things: the message and community building. Dance Parade is an opportunity for all of us in the dance world to step out of the studio for a minute, and take a look around at all the amazing things that are happening all around us. We all work hard at what we do, and I think it’s important to pause and revel in the beauty and amazingness that we all create.  What’s more, when we bring our awareness to the richness of our community, we open avenues for new opportunities: for building relationships, developing careers, and supporting each other in our shared passion.

Describe your most special memory from Dance Parades past?

The thing that sticks in my mind the most is the people: People with smiling, shining faces, people of all backgrounds, from all walks of life, converging in the park, singing, dancing and celebrating together. It’s a shame we don’t see that kind of joy more often, but it abounds at Dance Parade.

What salesman pitch would you use to attract a new volunteer into joining the team at Dance Parade?

Participating in the parade is super fun, sure. However, knowing that you had a hand in making it happen is so much more than fun.  You have to experience it to know what I’m talking about, but once you do, you’ll understand what was missing in your life, and keep coming back for more!