We sat down with one of our Acceptd Ambassadors, Iman Clark recently to talk about art, community, and that feeling of being accepted. Iman is from Columbus, Ohio and is currently majoring in Dance at The Ohio State University.
Acceptd: Ok, let’s start with an easy question to get to know you a bit! What gets you out of bed in the morning? What are you excited about right now?
Iman: Warm weather and events! I like planning events and creating events, but I also really like attending other people’s events.
Acceptd: What first inspired you to pursue the arts and dancing specifically?
Iman: The spark/lightbulb moment for me was the first time I saw the Alleyne Dance company. They came to Columbus when I was in 9th grade and I realized then that I could be a dancer. For years I trained on and off, found a studio and tried to make up for lost time training to be able to get into a dance program. Seeing a majority-black dance company like Alleyne really showed me that I could do this.
It was never an idea that dancing could actually be a career for me until senior year of high school. It didn’t feel like a credible way to make a living until I found the community and program to help me take the next step.
Acceptd: Being a dance major can lead to many different paths. Is there a specific style of dance you relate to most?
Iman: My style of dance is Afro-Fusion. I mix a lot of West African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latinx styles into what I’ve been trained in. I’ve really built my own track through what I am studying at the Ohio State University. Also, I am an African American and African studies minor, which helps with a lot of background information that influences my movement practice.
Acceptd: You are obviously very passionate about what you are doing right now. Do you have an idea of what do you want to do after you graduate?
Iman: I want to do a lot, haha. I want to perform, but I am also expanding my interest in arts management and fashion. Honestly, as long as I am in the arts I am happy.
Acceptd: You have mentioned how art plays such a big role in building community. Here at Acceptd, we firmly believe in this and we love nothing more than seeing communities grow and thrive around art. How else have you seen communities form around art?
Iman: Another form of my art is in throwing house shows. I invite DJs, musicians and various other artists to perform and it is great to see how many people show up to see the performances. And, what I want to create every time is a different experience that people don’t get to see everyday — it can be an escape from everyday life or a new way to experience everyday life.
Acceptd: We love to hear about the feeling you experienced when you were first accepted in your arts journey. What was a moment when you felt this feeling and how did it change your journey?
Iman: Of course getting into the Ohio State University Dance program was a pretty big deal, but honestly my biggest feeling of acceptance was getting into the American Dance Festival Summer Intensive. Ohio State offers a matching scholarship program too, so I am literally going to ADF with my full tuition paid for. And it’s cool because it all happened through Acceptd.
Acceptd: Ok, so here’s the cheesy question. If you could go back and tell your younger self on piece of advice in pursuing the arts, what would it be?
Iman:"Don’t compare your art to anyone else’s. Don't use anyone else or any other style to create your standards. Make your own artistic standards.
What keeps me going is seeing how art transforms lives. More and more, people are realizing just how powerful the arts are. The arts truly are an alternative way of medicine.
Interview by Acceptd Creative Lead, Derek DuPont