We had the good fortune of connecting with Perlizbeth De Leon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Perlizbeth, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Accepting failure. Often, failing can stop us in our tracks and convince us we shouldn’t do what we love. It’s enough to change your life. But failure is so normal. It happens to us all the time. Small or large, it can have lasting impact on us. Learning to accept failure carved me into a resilient, hard-working, patient person. I have been disappointed in my career a lot. From not making it at an audition, not being asked to a gig, not being asked to teach or choreograph, being ignored, being overlooked. Many things happen for all kinds of reasons. When we fail, it isn’t usually a direct correlation to our worth. But we’re raised to believe so. If we don’t get exactly what we want, it means we failed. It means we failed because we weren’t good enough to get what we wanted. But that isn’t the case. Sometimes we don’t get what we want because it wasn’t the right fit for us, we weren’t ready for it, we were meant for something else, or simply they liked someone more. Liking someone more doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty about ourselves to like. It just means they liked that specific person. The beautiful thing about failure is that it clears the way for success. Failure is truly like a detour on your path. It is merely rerouting you to your destination. We only step off the path for a little bit before we get back on and head towards where we are meant to be. I will always continue to do what I love, even if I fail at it. It only means I have more room to grow, more room to succeed.Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a professional dancer and choreographer. I use movement, performance, and film to tell stories, share perspectives, ask questions. From choreographic residencies, dance classes, live performances, and concept videos, there is meaning behind every piece I’ve made. Most of these stories stem from personal experiences but also tap into shared experiences of the humanity. The first piece I created and performed live was a story about my miscarriage. I remember being so anxious to even begin creating it or writing about what it was. I was scared to share the story with my dancers and viewers after the show. It became the start of creating dance as art, as storytelling. I realized I could tell stories I was afraid to talk about. I could share my emotions without actually saying it out loud. I could express without having to painstakingly detail the whole experience. I knew continuing this way would challenge me to express myself, push myself creatively. But I also knew how much I needed it. That piece still holds a special place in my heart and every time I watch it, I feel exactly what I felt when I was making it and performing it about six years ago. I feel the one thing that I do differently is incorporate improv into my choreographed pieces. Most MainStage dances or works, even concept videos, are all choreography based. However, most of what I do incorporates improv. I feel like freestyle is your true authentic self, while choreography is your refined self, your filtered self. Choreography takes more thought, while improvisation is spur of the moment. I use that raw expression and add a guideline: “Keep your heads connected while contact improving. Think about sharing thoughts with this person without words” or “Imagine there’s a huge weight on your body, dragging you down”. These guidelines can help my dancers navigate freestyle while continuing to tell their story. The language I give them allows them to tell their own story within mine. A big lesson I’ve learned in choreographing is to be flexible and adapt. I’ve had to make very quick changes for everything I have ever choreographed. I’ve gotten so used to finding ways to make choreography work under certain circumstances. Changing floorwork to standing, creating transitions for dancers to get on and offstage, shifting choreography due to costume restrictions, etc. It’s a fun and exciting process that keeps you on your toes! I feel like I’ve always been a problem solver and had fun doing puzzles. I love a good challenge and enjoy figuring things out. I find so much joy in creating work that leaves people with a spark in their hearts. I don’t want to impress others as much as I want to inspire others. If someone loves what I do, that’s wonderful. But if someone starts dancing, creates a business, or takes a risk because they’re inspired by me…I would be overflowing with happiness. I truly believe people succeed because they work hard. Not because they went viral or were super popular. People can be successful if they see themselves in that way: powerful, amazing, and unstoppable.Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Okay. SOOOO. I’m vegan but I love food. There are so many good vegan spots around town and that’s exactly what we’d do first. Of course, right now, it’s take out only but I like watching a movie while I eat anyway! Starlight Drive-Thru is perfect for right now because you can get your take out and enjoy a movie from your car. Some of my favorite vegan places are Sunflower Cafe, Harmony Vegetarian, VeGreen Vegan Fusion, The Loco Coco, Loving Hut, Go Vegan Grill, and, if I feel like waiting in line, Slutty Vegan. One of our favorite places to go, because we’re a family, is the Atlanta Zoo. Izzy loves seeing all the animals and just spending time with us. The new red panda, Jackie, is the absolute cutest. The other thing we would probably do, because I’m a dancer, is head to the dance studio and take some dance classes. My favorite dance studios to take class at are Xcel Studios, Divine Dance Studio, and Groove2Musik Studios.Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my family. My husband, EC, and my daughter, Izzy. They have been with me and supported me since I decided to pursue dance professionally. They are understanding of my late night rehearsals, days away from home working, and, most importantly, me choreographing in the living room. My husband who is also a dancer taught me some of the foundations I use: popping and house. Without the basics he shared with me, I wouldn’t dance the way I do today. My daughter and I are each other’s biggest fans. She always cheers me on when I feel tired and I do the same for her. I also want to dedicate my shoutout to my dance family in North Carolina. Entropy Dance Crew, my forever home, where I started dancing. The entire NC dance community for being exactly who they are and helping me grow as a person and a dancer. I love all of you so much.
Kat Ko, Christina Somphone, Katie Tyrrell