By Tequila Cheatham
At some point, we all experience depression. The way we channel that depression determines our outlook on life during those challenging moments. Upon moving to Washington D.C. to attend Howard University, I was depressed for many reasons. I tried different outlets, and nothing worked. I joined a sorority, I worked full time, and even attended church on campus, but nothing worked. I was deep into my depression, and no one knew because I masked the unhappiness. I was SINKING. I was involved in activities that I cared nothing about; started hanging with people for organizational purposes, and threw myself into school only to find myself discouraged by my major and some of the classes I could not pass. I was not eating or drinking water like I should have been to the point I became dehydrated. Had it not been for my buddies who took me to the hospital, and force fed me soup while in the waiting room, I would not have been able to walk out of the emergency room with the strength that I had.
I knew it was time to do something new. It was time to reset my spirit. For the first time in my life, I went to an audition. As a child, I was always amazed by the liturgical dancers in church, and even when I had watched some perform in Howard’s auditorium; so, I decided to try out my skills as a dancer and a spiritualist. I’ll never forget the nervousness I felt on the first day. Some of the girls were experienced, while I was just a self-taught amateur. Despite the fact I learned most of my dance moves by watching music videos by singers Aaliyah and Usher, I did not let anything intimidate me. It was my moment to do something for my spirit. This became about survival.
We were instructed to create a dance for the gospel song of our choice from Tye Tribett’s album, “Victory Live.”. Lucky for me, my roommate was the true Christian and had physical copies of gospel CD’s for me to copy. The first time I heard his album “Victory Live,” I became hooked by the energy and passion. One song that stood out to me in particular was “1-2 Victory Check” because when I first heard it, my soul danced, then followed my body. I knew it would be the perfect song for redemption. Not only was I moved by the beat, but the lyrics gave me life! It was the feeling that I had been searching for. I came up with a dance immediately, and when it was time to perform for the audition, I killed it and was asked to dance throughout the semester.
Not only did I have the opportunity to perform as a liturgical dancer in Howard University’s auditorium, church, and for a special on campus event, with every rehearsal, I took that as an opportunity to stomp out all negative emotion that surfaced, so much so that at one point, one of the head dancers just thought I was mimicking her moves when in actuality I was catching the holy ghost.
Joining the Beacon Liturgical Dance Ministry and dancing to Tye Tribbett for those few performances saved my spirit. I was hanging on by a string and closed myself off to my real friends. Finally, I had been restored, and as time went on, I would jog to my audition song and do the steps for fun. To this day, “Victory Live” remains one of my favorite albums, and I still remember some of the moves from our performances.
“Remember, no matter how your situation starts, it has to end in victory! You’ve got victory! You’ve got victory!” –Tye Tribett, Victory Live