Meet Allyson: Teacher, Dancer and Body Positivity Advocate
We met Allyson when looking for inspiring women to model for a casual social media shoot. We were instantly drawn to her cool style, effortless beauty, and inspiring work. Follow her on Instagram and read her story below.
Hello Everyone! My name is Allyson. I live and work in Harlem, New York City and I am very excited to join the Coco Cooper Denim crew!
I grew up in Norfolk, VA but I have found my way to NYC in pursuit of my dream of being a dancer. I didn’t initially pursue the path of dance. I attended the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg,VA) where I studied Elementary Education and Sociology. I was on track to be an upper elementary school teacher. I had always loved dance but never had formal training. While in college, I took a few modern dance classes to explore the curiosity I had with this field but it wasn’t until I saw a performance of Philadanco during my senior year that I knew I really had to be a dancer. Something in my spirit woke up during that performance and after that, all I wanted to do was dance.
After graduating, I took a job as a 4th grade teacher in Norfolk but in the evenings, determined to dance, I found a studio that offered ballet classes. I took class 3 times a week but I knew that wasn’t enough to get me to the level of proficiency as to what I had seen on stage earlier that year. Every morning, I looked at images of professional dancers of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to keep my dream alive and I kept taking class. I wasn’t really sure how my dream could come true, but I knew I wouldn’t give up on it.
During my second year of teaching, I knew that if my dance dream would ever come true, I would have to make some drastic changes so that I could access the training that would get me there. I applied to and was accepted at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. If you get into Harvard, it’s not something you turn down! When I began matriculating at Harvard, I amped up my dance education. I fit into my schedule as many dance classes as I could. That was just the beginning.
Since then, my curiosity with dance has taken me all around the United States. I’ve lived in Philadelphia, Las Vegas, San Francisco and now New York City. I’ve had the opportunity post- Harvard to study as a scholarship student at the Dance Theatre of Harlem (NY) and the Alonzo King LINES Ballet School (San Francisco) to access dance education within a conservatory. It was challenging on multiple levels to be a late bloomer in a field that nurtures youth with particular body frames. For some reason, none of that stopped me and to this day, I keep going in pursuit of excellence and of my dream.
I represent Coco Cooper Denim because I believe in myself. I am unique, intelligent and beautiful. In a world that likes to celebrate commonality, I embrace difference. I embrace my curves. I embrace non-tradition. I embrace being an educator, researcher and artist. I break the mold, create beauty, nurture and educate our youth and inspire change!