John 13:7- “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterwards you will understand.”



BTCF: At what age did you start dancing? What are your favorite dance forms and why?

IRELYNN: My first official dance class was when I was about 2.5.  My mom owns a dance studio, IlluminaTe Dance and Arts Center, and has taught my whole like so I can’t remember not dancing in a studio.

My favorite genres of dance are contemporary, hip hop and jazz.   I love contemporary because I can express myself freely with movement and challenge myself with different interpretations, I love hip hop because it’s fun and I love entertaining. Jazz is technical but also entertaining.

BTCF:  At 15, you have already begun to choreograph your own pieces, what inspires you and what is your process when creating?

IRELYNN: I love to choreograph (click here); it is a healing process for me and also a challenge.  I think my inspiration is feeling itself.  If I have a thought or feeling and find a piece of music that matches, it’s a perfect combination.  I like to hear and feel the music and use movement that is more organic and just feels good on my body.

BTCF: You recently were invited to perform at the national Trifecta Dance conference, what was that like?

IRELYNN: Our studio got nominated for an award at the Trifecta Dance Collective event in Chicago.  I submitted my solo (click here) to be chosen for a chance to perform and they chose it!  I was also chosen to dance with their company for that event.  I had a blast taking classes, auditioning, and learning from different choreographers.  And the performance was a lot of fun.

BTCF: There has been some very exciting news and scholarships you have received recently; can you share what this is all about and what it means to you?

IRELYNN: At the Trifecta event, we were able to audition for different scholarships.  I received 5 total but I am most excited about the scholarship I got to Pointe Park in Pittsburgh for their summer dance intensive    Pointe Park has been a dream school for as long as I knew what they were so I am very excited to go and to have been recognized.

BTCF: BTCF uses all forms of art as healing tools when it comes to body image and mental health struggles.  How do you use your form of art to tap into healing for yourself and for others you work with or create for?

IRELYNN: I am not very good at expressing myself with words, so dance is my way. When I have a rough day, I dance.  When I’m happy, I dance.  It’s so consistent in my life and always has been    It’s there for me through everything and I can get it all out in a safe space.

BTCF: Social media is such a central focus of so many young people and it sometimes creates stress when it comes to comparison.  What are your thoughts around this and how do you navigate social media to stay in more of a healthy mindset for yourself?

IRELYNN: I try very hard, though sometimes it’s harder than others, to stay off social media or at least the parts that I feel are unhealthy for me.   I also remember I see certain things or images that are not always what they seem.  I know that a picture or video can come from a million and three takes and whatever is posted is the perfect one.  Also with all the editing tools, it’s not hard to make any image seem perfect.   There is ALOT more to life than image   I focus on depth and creativity.

BTCF: What would you say to young people who struggle with their body image?  Could you share 3 tips that would help them create more positive self-talk?

IRELYNN: Body image is tricky, but I remember that we are all made the way we are.  God made us all a certain way and I try to focus on my strengths and what I was given.   If I want to improve it, I work hard to do it.   Nothing comes easy.  But it is hard when there is so much to see and compare to.  That’s the key, no need to compare    No one can be me and I can’t be anyone else.  Just focusing on being the best version of myself I can.  And that’s not necessarily what I look like.  I also want to be happy and healthy.

BTCF: What are your favorite ways to unwind and create your own self-care time?

IRELYNN: When I relax and unwind, I really just want to spend time with my family.

BTCF: Who inspires you and why?

IRELYNN: Well, my brother inspires me most. He was/ is an incredible person and He can’t be here to live his life so I want to live mine to the fullest for him.

I am also inspired by my mom, my sisters, and my dad.  They are all so strong.

BTCF: What are some things you are currently working on in the dance world?

IRELYNN: I’m currently getting ready for our company show in February.  We are a performance-based company and we put on a full-length show every year.  Our competition season follows that.  And just continuing to train and get better every day.  I’m also going to Oklahoma City University at the end of the month for a weekend dance workshop.

BTCF: Pizza or Tacos?

IRELYNN: Tacos, definitely

BTCF: Running or Walking?

IRELYNN: Walking, I hate to run

BTCF: Contemporary Dance or Hip hop?

IRELYNN: Contemporary (click here) or Hip Hop (click here) ?

Thank you Irelynn!



Photos by @bellemattsonphotography