Read on to hear more about former JUNTOS Executive Director and Alum, Amy McMurchie, and her journey with JUNTOS Collective.
- First, can you tell me about your history with dance? How did you first get into it, and how have you developed as a professional?
Moving has been a part of me forever from dance performances in my living room to competitive gymnastics, and choreographing shows with my sister and cousins. I took my first ballet class as a 10 year old and was hooked: the clarity and rules in a world that felt a bit too complicated, the music, my mind moving in my body instead of floating in my head and the positions that felt my body was created for. I delved deeper into ballet and contemporary, eventually graduating from Alonzo King LINES BFA program and subsequently dancing and teaching in Chicago and the Bay Area, in addition to working for JUNTOS. I’m currently going back to school to pursue a degree as a Physician Assistant. A big shift, but I’m ready for it!
- Can you elaborate on your journey with JUNTOS. How did it start, What brought you to JUNTOS? What intrigued you most about the program?
I began as a hungry 19 year old dance student, eager to use dance as a means to connect, stayed connected with JUNTOS as a graduate and eventually ended up working as a staff member for nearly six years. I’m stepping down from my role as a staff member and looking forward to being a cheerleader and volunteer from the sidelines!
- How were you called to keep coming back and stay involved?
It’s all about the people! I am called to stay involved because I have seen the impact dance can have on so many different people.
- What was a favorite JUNTOS memory of yours?
Ten years ago, leading what would be my first of hundreds of freeze dances at a girls orphanage in San Miguel De Allende. I shed my image of what I thought dance should be as we laughed, posed and danced together. Dance was more than a pretty pose or grueling hours in the studio: it was a sensation that can fuel us all.
- How has your time with JUNTOS been the most rewarding? How has it been challenging?
JUNTOS is a labor of love: all involved have dedicated themselves not because of how it might reflect in our bank accounts, but because we see the impact of our efforts reflected in individuals. It is a blessing to have work where success is measured beyond financial gains and more so by impact on humans. This has, however posed challenges, including balancing multiple jobs in order to stay afloat personally. If we, as a society could shift to pay non-profit employees and artists living wages, I believe more social problems would be solved at a faster rate.
- What insight might you give to our alumni community as they continue their journey and relationship with dance and social justice? Any words of inspiration or guidance?
There is no action too small that can make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve often wondered if I am contributing “enough” to improving lives, particularly whether or not dance is the best vehicle for change. When I question my contributions, I recall the saying: “the arc of the universe is long and bends towards justice.” Justice occurs when each of us does small things to make the world a better place. For some that is dancing.