That's how I responded the first time I heard Best Friend use the phrase. Best Friend is a contemporary, ballet, and contemporary ballet dancer. I asked him to explain.
"Oh, you know, the roll-on-the-floor-feel-close-to-the-earth kind of dance."
"Well, that's what I do."
"You're not like them. You still have and use technique."
It felt like the explanation white folks use to explain their token black. "You're not like them."
So now not only am I the token black girl (I've been "oh, so articulate" in predominately white academic institutions for 13 of my 20 years of education.), but I'm the token modern. And let's not even get into where I fit into the "black dance" spectrum. At least, not today.
Choreographers have the pleasure of being able to create movement on their own bodies and have dancers emulate them. It is an out-of-body experience unique to the dancer-choreographer type of art-making. I've experienced this particular pleasure in depth over the past three years, at times making more dances simultaneously than my head and body could really manage. In watching the trajectory of my own work my style and voice continues to crystallize as something uniquely me. My training and experiences in dance manifest themselves more fully with each new work, and I can literally see my particular and entire dance history in the few minutes my choreography is on stage. From beginning to end of a piece I see Sylvie, Ava, Dana, Katie, Karla, Mary, Colleen, Donlin, Sister Gifty, JK, Charlotte, Armando, George...
They are my teachers, the ones who've impacted me most. They are not all "moderns," although somehow all that body knowledge they've passed on have shaped me to be "modern." I thank them for that. The Sydnie-brand of modern dance thanks them for that.