We had the good fortune of connecting with Felicia Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Felicia, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
For me I believe in patiently waiting for the invitation. Whether it is speaking, performing, a yoga class, dance workshop, choreographing for an event- I always wait for the invitation. It is counter-intuitive to our society that teaches grind, grind, grind, hustle, and do not sleep. However, it’s intuitive for me. I understand that I am not for everyone and I am not only okay with that, I am grateful for that. I put myself out there without force and those that want my services know how to reach me. It has allowed me rest and balance and to me that’s success.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe at this point, what I am most excited about is dancing what makes me feel good. When I first started presenting dance in the early days of “Pretty Cultured”, I wanted desperately to tell black stories, break stereotypes of black women, and humanize us as black women. Stacey & I presented “A New Statement” where we interwove the story of Saartjie Baartman (Hottentot Venus) into the narratives of black women in contemporary society. Years later we presented the piece “…in all her glory” celebrating blackwomanhood. Many of our pieces dealt with storytelling, narrative shifting, and celebrating blackness and blackwomanhood. We aimed to negate the stereotypes of “hardness”, we aimed to humanize, and we aimed to show complexity. All 3 of us grew and as I evolved in my personal life I chose to put down what felt for me like a burden of “performing my humanity”. I chose to stop focusing on the audience honestly. I stopped wondering who would be there, teaching, sharing, this question of “Will they get it?”, & even celebrating somewhat. It’s not that I didn’t believe in those things, I simply wanted to know what my art would look like if it was raw and stripped down of any agenda, conditioning, and burden. I wanted to know what it would begin to look like if I did what felt good to me. The season I was trying to become a mother and the birth of my daughter led me to where I am professionally. I use my space in dance as a place of enjoyment and learning, not just for the audience but for me as well. I think my work shifted and I showcased my own spiritual shift when I presented “Love Spell” & “Adura”, which focused on African Spirituality. I also presented “Tender” which was personal and about love as well. Collaboratively our most recent work at Project Row Houses, “In My Grandmother’s Womb” was a work of love and that is all I want to do now. I want to feel good in my art and if others feel good consuming it, then that is wonderful. I put down the burden of trying to show the complexities of blackness and blackwomanhood to a society that cannot (or will not ) always receive it and I use my space in dance now to simply be. Through my daughter and leaning into the love of family, I have learned rest, balance, curiosity, having a child-like happiness and presence of mind. I began to claim abundance more after I had her and I simply wanted to be and enjoy life. I still do not know how to define that artistically but I do know that is where I am currently and it feels good. My story, my work, and one of my roles in this lifetime is holding space for freedom & liberation. I’m always thinking about deconstructing old toxic lessons and living in my most authentic self and hopefully that inspires others to do the same.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a best friend was visiting Houston I would take them to the Japanese Garden to walk, talk, have a breakfast picnic, and unwind. We could then go to The Menil Museum and hang out at the Rothko Chapel. For lunch we could hit up The Reggae Hut and later that evening we could boogie on over to a roller skating rink 😉 After skating for dinner we would go get seafood from Jenivi’s seafood Shoppe! Hopefully they would have a great time- I would though! Lol
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Stacey Allen & Lindsay Garrigue are artist, friends, & sisters that I have to give a heartfelt shoutout to. Stacey & I began a dance collaborative “Pretty Cultured”, in 2012. Later Lindsay joined and I believe it was divine alignment. We have since grown from performing to doing a dance workshop for children. I also have to shoutout Christina Bowens, my samba coach and friend that helped me prepare for a samba competition and elevate my dance skills. Most importantly, I would also shoutout my entire family for coming to performances no matter how difficult the parking:), watching my daughter during late night rehearsals and events, fostering a space for me to thrive, and believing that I will be successful at anything, even when I had my own doubts.
Other: Podcast Name & Website: “Liberation Hertz” http://liberationhertz.buzzsprout.com/ Also available on Apple, Spotify, & iHeartRadio.
The first picture is of my daughter and I watering the garden. All professional pictures by Andre Santos Photography