January 2021



A famous philosopher once said, “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” This statement stirs something inside the heart of even the most dedicated wallflower. Whether for fun or romance, in worship or in performance, there’s just something about dancing that takes stress and worry and sets them aside for a brief moment and replaces them with joy. As a 9-year-old dancing in church, Travawyn (Tray) Taylor stumbled upon that joy and has determined to never waste another day. Nine short years later, Tray is an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Houston pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and is an elite dancer. He first discovered his passion for the art form naturally when he noticed, “I did it all the time and looked to it for a stress reliever.” Tray, recognizing the financial burden of dance school tuition, used all the tools at his disposal to begin honing his craft. “I just used YouTube, and I looked up stretching videos. I would try to copy their moves and technique,” he said. This is how Tray’s training progressed for the next two years. As his talent for dance became obvious to those around him, a very generous lady at the Boys and Girls Club where Tray regularly spent time recognized the special abilities he possessed and wanted to TAYLOR


photos by Molly Kendrick

help him continue to progress. She offered him a scholarship to any dance school in Shreveport, where he lived. “I went to the dance school called Power and Grace, and she paid for everything,” Tray said. It was at the Power and Grace School of Performing Arts, where Tray began his formal training under experienced teachers in state-of-the-art facilities. There was no turning back for this highly motivated and extremely talented boy, and now he had the extra help he needed to excel. After a couple of years, Tray’s family moved to Texarkana. While Tray continued to use YouTube videos and other online resources as vital training tools, he also enrolled at Joni’s Gymnastics, Dance and Cheer Centre, which “involved intense training that pushed me a lot,” he recalled. Whether contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, tap, jazz, modern, jazz funk, musical theater, or others, it was at Joni’s that Tray began working to master them all. “My favorite would have to be contemporary because it’s ever-evolving and I feel so vulnerable creating anything in this style, whether it has a meaning or not.” “Tray has so much rhythm, musicality, and natural talent. He expects a lot of himself and never gives up. He loves learning technique correctly and practices it daily. Through the years he was at my studio, he rose to an incredibly advanced level. He has an amazing mother and twin brother who encourage and cheer


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