“We are trying to preserve the history and traditions of African art as presented throughout the Diaspora. We provide services—African drumming, African dancing and spoken words for adults and children,” Perry said.
Perry became enamored with African dance after experiencing African drumming.
“The first time I heard the drums, I connected with it deep in my soul. I had a connection with the culture and I knew my mind was awakened,” she said.
With the help of her friend and mentor Linda “Imani” Barrett, founder and former executive director of the Legacy Project, Perry was able to break through her shyness and tap into her femininity to become the fluid, mesmerizing dancer she is today.
“It was a revelation for me because I was able to recognize my beauty and realize the artistry that comes before us gives us our own uniqueness,” she said.
When Barrett stepped down as executive director of the Legacy Project two years ago it was a natural choice for her to hand the reins to Perry.
“I have a sense of honor because I’m carrying this forward,” said Perry who stays in contact with Barrett often to make sure the organization is being run true to her vision.
Perry hopes to incorporate her love of photography into the work she does with the Legacy Arts Project.
“I’m trying to get funding to integrate photography and dance and to be able to travel oversees and study dance in Cuba or Brazil. I want to be able to bring that information back to the United States and the Legacy Arts Project,” she said.
In the meantime, Perry who recently graduated from the Katz Graduate School of Business with an MBA and focus on strategic leadership, works as a freelance photographer for the New Pittsburgh Courier and also takes pictures for the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, The August Wilson Center for African American Culture and the Ujamaa Collective.
“The Pittsburgh Black dance scene is in a good place right now and being able to document Pittsburgh Black history and dance is the best of both worlds. It’s literally a blessing,” Perry said. “I am a participant, a documentarian and an observer. With further collaborations, it’ll be possible for Pittsburgh to be a great part of the dance scene internationally.”
“My mission is to be able to travel the world and really experience the art and see the connection that we share,” she said.
(For more information on Perry and her work, visit http://www.erinperryphotography.com or http://www.legacyartsproject.org.)