Five Questions for Shireen Dickson

Name: Shireen Rowena Zita Dickson
Title/Occupation:  Fashion Designer (rowenazita design); Dancer; Dance Educator; Arts Administrator

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in Maryland.  I moved back to NYC after  being asked to work on a project that was rehearsing in the city before going to Jacob’s Pillow for the summer.  Then I got into grad school at NYU so it all worked out.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

Going out to clubs — freestylers and improvisers inspire me the most.  Real-time exchanges of ideas and information and the way that people differently process the same input is revealing and inspiring!

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I wish I was as proficient and as naturally in sync with a musical instrument as I am at tap dancing.  I wish I could read music.  I wish I could make clearer flat and technical sketches.  All without practicing.  I have a secret songwriting dream, and drawing would help my designing.  I just started playing the electric bass.  “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell is the first bass line I’ve  learned.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

Hustle baby!  Right now I company manage Slippage which is in residence at MIT and he Okra Dance Company which preserves and performs African American and other rhythmic folk dance and music traditions.  I do professional development workshops in arts education and You can find me at the Brooklyn Flea or at other markets on the weekends. I am working on building my online store.  I do random performance things…I go to a lot of prospecting meetings!   I teach  dance classes.  On a normal day, I’ll sew up some dresses, work on my online store, handle Dance Parade business,  confirm logistics for performances, and mess around on the guitar.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

Never that I can think of.  I’m lucky.  I decided early on that I’d rather do what felt good 99% of the time and work within the consequences.  But there was still a choice (at the time) — money or art!  Now that I like having lots of money,  there is no longer a choice. I just keep stepping my game up so that I can have both!  It’s working out OK so far.

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