South Florida Caribbean News

Dancing With Naima Inspires Little Black and Brown Girls To Dance

SOUTH FLORIDA – Dancing with Naima is a children’s book that depicts the beauty of learning and appreciating some essential life lessons from the perspective of a sweet and innocent little girl.

The storyline and illustration work well together to enlighten the teacher and parent to a child’s feelings and inner thoughts while building the confidence of the very young ballerina.

Author and dancer Desiree Parkman does a great job in making the book informative and entertaining. The glossary is a tremendous bonus for readers as the illustrations depicted the storyline with clarity and beauty.

Some books introduce us to characters who are different from us, allowing us to see the world from a new perspective. But for children in the process of figuring out who they are, and who they want to be, it is just as important also to read stories about characters they can relate to, and see themselves in children who read the book are enlightened educationally and culturally by Dancing with Naima.

Desiree Parkman’s love for dance started early, growing up in her dance local studio Sherry Gold’s Dance Unlimited later renamed The Gold Studios.

Desiree Parkman Illustrious Career

Desiree graduated to an extensive career in dance appearing in the Tony and Grammy Award Broadway Show, “Annie Get Your Gun,” with Bernadette Peters and later Reba McIntyre. Later she joined the prestigious company of the world-renowned Radio City Rockettes, and it was eyeing high kicks for Christmas! She has also appeared alongside some of the industry’s legendary talents such as Lena Horne, Ossie Davis, Chita Rivera, Carmen De Lavallade and Geoffrey Holder.

Her concert dance work includes a plethora of modern dance companies such as Complexions, Philadanco II, and Rod Rodgers Dance Company.

In addition to her career onstage, Desiree is very involved in the dance education of the younger generation teaching at dance schools across the nation, community art programs such as the Boys And Girls Club of America, A Place Called Home, YMCA, as well as starting her own non profit Urban Artz a program designed to provide access and exposure to underserved community youth. Now an emerging choreographer and producer in her right Desiree’s work have been seen at Inner-City Arts, House of Blues, LA Convention Center, Cleveland Playhouse, Karamu House and the NAACP Theatre Awards.

Currently, Desiree is in demand as an adjudicator and teacher at many National Dance Conventions as well as producing her show Ebony Cabaret, an evening of song and dance that pays homage to the Cotton Club and Harlem heydays! She is thrilled to be living her dream and looking forward to continuing to grow as a choreographer/teacher spreading the gift of dance!

Desiree continues to bring her expertise for dance classes focused on building a broader movement vocabulary as well as learn the key to picking up different styles from Musical Theatre, jazz, ballet, and tap!

A One on One with Desiree Parkman

Q: Who is Naima? What was the inspiration for this character? 

A: Naima is me as a little girl, a revisit to the joy and wonder I felt when I first stepped into a dance studio. I was inspired by my journey into to dance, as well as the many young girls that begin dance every year. I knew there was a lack of representation featuring girls of color in books I wanted to be apart of changing that. I wanted those little girls to have something special that speaks to them.

Q: What was the process of getting that very first book published? 

A: It all happened pretty naturally. It started with a few conversations with a close friend about the idea. I started writing it maybe three years ago when I was living in Texas.  Life took over, and I put it on the back burner for about a year as I had not found the right illustrator. Once I was settled here in Florida, I picked it up again, and the universe provided me the perfect illustrator in Jasmine Cole who was a friend I met visiting my parents in Mississippi. I researched about self-publishing and decided to go that route. I finally published last November under Amazon’s create space. Self-publishing is a great way to get your book out, but I am no ruling out any publishing houses that are looking for children’s author for a niche market.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Currently, I am preparing for summer dance intensives at Jacksonville Centre of the Arts, Orlando Repertory Theatre as well as organizing a trip to NYC for dancers to experience the city through classes and Broadway shows. 

Q: As you wrote Dancing With Naima who were you keeping in mind – the kids or the parents or both?

A: I wanted to keep this in the spirit and voice of the child. Her excitement, her discovery into the world of ballet. I also wanted to show the parent as being supportive and ready to see how the journey unfolds. I wanted this to be a real introduction and take them inside a dance class from beginning to end. And for parents it works as a tremendous educational guide as it has beautiful lessons built in that reinforce working hard, eating healthy, being on time and being prepared. Also comes with a glossary of ballet terms.

 Q: How important for young girls of color to see images of themselves as a ballet dancer?

A:  It is crucial for girls of color to see images of themselves doing great things period and of course that extends itself to ballet. There have always been brown ballerinas around we did not see them often or know about them unless you lived in that ballet world. With the breakthrough that is Misty Copeland, and others before her like Lauren Anderson, Charmaine Hunter, Aesha Ash to name a few, as well as organizations like Brown Girls Do Ballet we see brown images in ballet more often. I hope it becomes the norm and not just a trend but result in true inclusion into the art form. 

Click here to get your copy of “Dancing with Naima” on Amazon.

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