De’Anya Ezahni Bell is a senior at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School. She has been studying dance for twelve years, receiving training in ballet, jazz, tap, flamenco, hip-hop, and musical theatre. Currently, Bell concentrates on the modern dance technique as a student and assistant to Sharon Skepple Mayfield at Skepple Mayfield Dance in Augusta, Georgia.

When did your interest in modern dance start?
I began training at a modern-based dance school early in my dance career. Growing up in the south heavily influenced my development as a modern dancer. The organic characteristics and endless possibilities of modern dance sparked my interest at a young age and allowed me to soar.

What do you enjoy about modern? What is most challenging?
Modern dance allows me to practice and execute the art of precision, discipline and accuracy, which translates into everyday life. As I advance in my dance career, I am learning that “discipline is freedom” in terms of how to move, when to move, and whether to be structured or freeform. Personally, though, continuing to develop my artistic abilities has been difficult at times. I am extremely dedicated to my craft, which causes occasional frustration if progress takes longer than I expect. Nevertheless, with the help of my mentor, my hard work never stops as I continue to achieve anything I put my mind to.

Describe one of your favorite performances and why?
In the winter of 2017, the Skepple Mayfield Dance Company collaborated with GMT RealX at a Jazz Soiree in Downtown Augusta. It was my first time performing to and with a live band. Although we practiced leading up to the show, I have never experienced a feeling as natural and unrehearsed as when I danced alongside the band. The energy of the musicians, dancers and audience members created a certain magic that I have never forgotten.

Is there a particular dancewear or dance equipment that you like or use?
On a normal day, you can catch me in the studio in all black, wearing a leotard and tights. I have been trained to stick to the basics, straying away from adornments that may potentially draw attention away from my work’s substance. And recently, I have developed an interest in unitards. I love the sleek look they provide. My favorite one is designed by Capezio and I got it from Tutus and Dance Shoes: Augusta’s local dancewear store where I have the best job ever!

This article appears in the February 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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