An interview with Johari Mayfield
When did you begin dancing? Has being a dance teacher/dancer been a dream job of yours? My love affair with dance began with double Dutch as a very young child. I followed my friend to a ballet class and never looked back. I can still jump rope though. Dance/dance teaching are definitely dream professions. I'm grateful to be fully self expressed as an artist as well as have the ability to empower others through movement.
I started teaching at ETD Outreach in spring of 2018 and teach at two sites in the Bronx at PCMH and Acacia supportive housing sites. It’s been a blessing because I get to share dance/exercise/therapeutic movement with populations that may not have access. My goal is to be fully self expressed through movement sharing my truth, passion and joy so that others feel free to do the same.
As a dancer, I’ve worked with Forces of Nature, Peggy Choy, and Heidi Latsky. I was a resident artist at HERE Arts Center 2008-2011 where I produced my own work integrating dance and film.
Describe your style of dancing and teaching. What artists have impacted you the most?
I'm a movement/dance mutt. Double dutch, ballet, modern and African in that order. My teaching style has evolved over time from an old school rigid style to a more inclusive flow with structure. I love Jacques D'Amboise and NDI. Many artists have impacted me including Sylvester Campbell, Abdel Salaam, Maureen Fleming, Dyane Harvey and Sheila Kaminsky to name a few.
What public figure has had the biggest influence on you and why?
Gandhi. I took a business course once where one of the leading questions was what/who will you stand for. Then we were shown a film of Gandhi on a hunger strike to protest British rule over India. As an artist in recovery, I was inspired by that. In the context of dance teaching, I stand for people who may not have the access to dance/movement as a therapeutic agent, particularly in environments that are challenging--- jails, detox/recovery centers, domestic violence shelters
Do you have a quote or mantra that you live by? Yes! “One Day at a Time”, I know that's very simple and maybe even a little cliche, but as I get older, I'm discovering how to stay present and allow things to unfold as they need too. I like to rush and know that something is going to work without room for mistakes, new discoveries, etc. When I keep things in the day without worrying about what's next, life is so much more enjoyable.
What's been the largest obstacle/struggle in your life to becoming an artist in NYC? How did you overcome it?
Myself. Honestly, I've allowed myself to stop taking chances because of one reason or another. Fear of failure has kept me from a lot of opportunities because I was afraid of looking bad. I'm overcoming it by feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Since approaching life from that perspective, I've met tons of new collaborators and friends who often times have the same fears that I do.
To learn more about ETD Outreach, or to book a workshop at your location, please find us online: ETDOutreach.org
A little more about Johari…
Johari Mayfield is a dancer, choreographer, activist, healer, and ACE certified personal trainer living in New York City. Johari utilizes her dance background along with cardiovascular exercises, strength training and yoga with her clients to hone the synergies of mind/body, strength and flexibility. Johari’s community outreach initiatives have included children’s workshops on fitness and healthy eating at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, movement and fitness with Girls Education and Mentoring Service (GEMS), an organization committed to empowering survivors of sexual exploitation and Reveal NYC, a nonprofit organization that encourages female survivors of domestic violence in self-care. In addition, she's also taught cardio dance classes at the Rose M. Singer Center at Riker’s Island for female inmates and team building through dance in her “Hip Hop Lit Squad” for children at the Athleta Flatiron location in NYC. She currently is on faculty at Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, and works as an instructor on the ETD Outreach team. She's the proud new mom of Lucy a rescue Pitbull.
SAVE THE DATE for Johari’s New Show: RECOVERY at 14 St Y’s 2019-2020 Arts+Culture Season
Sept. 12-14, 2019 Thurs.-Sat. @7:30 PM and @1PM Saturday
About my show, Recovery: Although I create events that serve my recovery and the recovery of others, this is the first time I have created an entire body of work based on my personal healing and performed it myself! It's both exciting and nauseating, but I feel the urge to crack open and explain the addict, the society they struggle to remain sober in, and the process of recovery.
This work blends movement and technology, you'll follow my self examination where I ask questions that often time never have a satisfying answer:
With drugs readily accessible, can I stay sober?
Am I a good person only when I am sober?
Am I an evil person trying to make amends?
Is there a finish line to recovery?
This hybrid work, poignantly titled RECOVERY, will be performed at the 14th St Y's 2019-2020 Arts+Culture season, Life and Death, New York, NY.
There will be a talk back after the 7:30 PM show on Saturday, Sept 14, we'll be discussing
The Opioid Crisis: Legal Drugs with Lethal Consequences. Artistic Director, Eryc Taylor, will be a guest speaker on the panel.
Dates/Times: Sept. 12-14, 2019 Thurs.-Sat. @7:30 PM and @1PM Saturday
Tickets can be purchased here: 14streety.org/recovery
Tickets $12 with code: LIFE. Valid online only
RECOVERY is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas and co-sponsored by Harkiss Designs and Gay and Sober. Please review this page for more info.