[Interview] Meet SCDT Artist Lourdes Taylor

Credit: Lourdes Taylor and The Silverman Group

Accomplished dancer Lourdes Taylor plans to wow the Chicago audience with her dance skills this Friday during An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years. Lourdes, who is a Chicago native, has an extensive resume that includes graduating magna cum laude from Haverford College and being a Ph.D student at the University of Chicago. She has worked for top clients like Vanity Fair, Vogue, Shawn Mendes and Jamila Woods.

Do you want to learn more about South Chicago Dance Theatre’s Emerging Artist? Check out our interview below.

BTSCelebs: Who is Lourdes Taylor professionally?

Lourdes Taylor: Broadly, as a professional I am a dancer, writer, and teacher. I have been doing professional work in dance since I was sixteen, beginning with the Hiplet Ballerinas, who I still work with now. I am also currently a PhD student at the University of Chicago in English as part of the university’s first inaugural Black Studies cohort. I research relationships between Blackness and Ecology in literature, primarily novelistic fiction and poetry, which is quite fun. Finally, I am a teacher to two classes of wonderful students who I adore at Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center; teaching is incredibly fulfilling for me in both dance and literature.

Regarding dance, while concert dance has always been my primary focus, having a diverse range of performance abilities and pursuing opportunities in different capacities has made for a much more interesting career thus far. I have appeared in print ads, performed in music videos, modeled in fashion shows, but have also danced a full-length concert in a parking lot, performed at bridal showers, a book signing, etc. and loved it all. For me, creating meaningful and respectful connections with people is what makes for meaningful art, not maintaining an arbitrary commitment to one medium over another (though such choices can sometimes be necessary).

Social engagement is also an extremely important aspect of who I am professionally. I believe strongly in working with people and organizations who do not pretend to be blind to practices of exclusion, disrespect, and hatred in dance and the world at large. I was trained at a dance studio that was predominantly composed of Black and Brown students and administration. As a professional, I aspire to work with people and organizations who share a commitment to directly and immediately refusing racist, sexist, and heteronormative structures in everyday practice. This commitment for me extends well beyond dance, and is part of my professional life as a student, researcher, and teacher as well.

Who inspired you to pursue a career in performing arts?

So many people have inspired me at different points in my life. Perhaps most foundationally, Homer Hans Bryant is founder and executive director for the dance school that trained me, Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center. I’m a dancer today because of him and his commitment to educating Black and Brown kids in artistry. I’ve been continuously inspired as well by dance pioneer Debbie Allen, who I did a report on for school when I was in the first grade. Her children’s book, Dancing in the Wings, features a young black girl who wants to be a ballerina. It was one of my favorite books as a kid.

How did you get involved with South Chicago Dance Theatre (SCDT)?

In Spring 2021, I was in my senior year of college living with friends in Philadelphia. Once accepted into my current graduate program, I knew I was returning from Philadelphia back home, and started researching open auditions in Chicago I might be interested in pursuing. A few mutual friends followed SCDT on Instagram, bringing me to their page, and to a post advertising their upcoming virtual concert. When the day came, I screened the performance on my living room TV in Philly, and was immediately inspired by how talented and dynamic the dancers were. That summer, in June 2021, I went to the audition, and Kia Smith, SCDT’s Executive Artistic Director, hired me to perform in Dance For Life as a guest artist. From there, she offered me a contract as an emerging artist, and I’ve been with SCDT since!

What is your favorite moment from the five-year anniversary show?

There’s so much that I love about this show; I’m lucky to be constantly blown away by the people I work with. That said, one of my favorite moments is in a solo performed by guest artist Taylor Yocum, where she pretends to be almost alarmingly overwhelmed with emotion while accepting praise and adoration from an imagined (but also, very real beyond the fourth wall) audience. It’s so special and rich with Taylor’s genius, and came out of a collaborative movement exercise provided by choreographer Stephanie Martinez in the process for her piece, “On a Lark.”

What do you hope audiences take away from “An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years?”

Hopefully the audience will take away that dance is truly more impactful when strong, unique voices are brought together without an outdated, rigid commitment to physical or personal “uniformity.”

Moreover, I’m excited for the audience to see the many different styles, personalities, and bodies that my fellow dancers each bring to the stage at this show. My biggest hope is that people come away from An Evening feeling a little more seen as human beings, that at some point across the five dances an aspect of their own experience was witnessed and appreciated by us. All I can hope for as a performer is that audience members trust me with their energy enough to transform it for them on the stage.

Name one popular song that describes your mood right now.

Jamila Woods, “Holy”

What projects should we anticipate from you for the remainder of the year?

This is a great question, to which even I don’t have an answer! I certainly hope to stay with SCDT next season, which Kia has, if you can believe it, even more exciting plans for. This coming summer, stay tuned with me as I audition for different commercial and concert projects.

An Evening with the South Chicago Dance Theatre: Celebrating Five Years will be held at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph St, Chicago) on May 20, 2022 at 7:30 pm.

BIO: A Chicago native, Lourdes Taylor received the majority of her dance education and training at Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center under the direction of Homer Hans Bryant. She also studied at Dance Theatre of Harlem and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater in their summer intensive programs. Lourdes graduated magna cum laude from Haverford College with a B.A in English and minor in Dance via Bryn Mawr College. Simultaneously, she danced with the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!)’s second company, D2, where she performed works choreographed by Francisco Gella, Daniel Ezralow, Tommie Waheed, and Donald Lunsford among others. Lourdes has been a guest artist with Contretemps Contemporary Ballet as well as the Hiplet Ballerinas, whom she has long worked with. With Hiplet, she has performed live as well as appeared in print ads, commercials, music videos, etc. for such clients as Swarovski Crystal, Nordstrom Inc., Vanity Fair, Vogue, Shawn Mendes, Jamila Woods (Pitchfork Music Festival), and others. Lourdes is additionally a first year Ph.D student at the University of Chicago in English, as part of the university’s first inaugural Black Studies cohort. She is exuberant to be dancing with South Chicago Dance Theatre as an Emerging Artist this season.

  • A Special Thanks to Lourdes Taylor and The Silverman Group for the exclusive interview, bio and image.

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