Tamisha Guy is a dancer with A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, a dance instructor, and a choreographer. She receives the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Dance for her work that engages elements of contemporary, modern, and narrative dance traditions to inform her performance language, which is both intuitive and compelling.
A challenging transition
Guy was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad. At the direction of her mother, when Guy was 10 her family immigrated to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother made the decision to move the family to the United States to pursue higher education and provide her three children with additional opportunities.
As a child, Guy recalls feeling isolated and withdrawn as she navigated the transition from the life she knew in Trinidad to the cold concrete structures of New York.
“Understanding the sacrifice that people have to make in their everyday lives is something that I carry with me,” says Guy. “There is a level of empathy that I have [that has] afforded me a heightened awareness of how I carry myself in the world.”
Finding her footing
Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Guy began taking classes at Ballet Tech, the New York City Public School for Dance. Through dance, Guy found a way to process the challenges she experienced as she was adjusting to living in New York. “I will forever be grateful for dance, because it really helped me through that period in my life,” she says. “It continues to help me as I move through the world.”
Guy earned her BFA in dance and BA in arts management at the State University of New York at Purchase. At Purchase, she studied under Kevin Wynn. She recalls that Wynn’s class “set the trajectory” for her career. “For four years I immersed myself in his world, and by my senior year his intricate, fast movement had ignited my own voice.”
Guy’s performances are remarkable for the precision with which she conveys powerful emotions and themes. The diverse set of influences that have shaped her work and practice have honed her unique voice and style, which draw as much from the fluidity of modern dance as from the rigor of ballet and the vernacular of hip-hop.
In 2014, Guy joined Kyle Abraham’s company, A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham. Abraham, too, was a student of Wynn’s. “Their movement aesthetics are similar,” she says, “so I felt at home inside of the movement. ”
Perhaps as a result of the powerful role models she has had in her own career, Guy is passionate about teaching; she is a lecturer in dance at Barnard College. “I feel so fortunate to be able to share with other artists who are in their own sort of developmental stage,” she says. “My hope is to be authentic and intentional in my work, to serve as a source of inspiration to other artists hoping to lead a career in the art form.”