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IRE O. (LOS ANGELES)

"At the age of 12, I grappled with insecurities as a competition dancer, uncertain of my place in the dance world. Although I possessed a natural talent for tap dancing, I hesitated to fully commit to the style, plagued by self-doubt as I observed other dancers excelling in tap. It wasn't until I encountered Chloé Arnold at a convention that my perspective on tap dance expanded. Witnessing a thriving, college- educated Black woman in the dance community had a profound impact on me, reshaping my approach to life.

While many relationships with convention teachers fade away, my connection with Chloé was distinctive. She became a constant presence in my life, offering guidance not only in dance but also in academics. Chloe imparted the importance of building a legacy as a Black woman, emphasizing that her path was not just for her own success but to pave the way for girls like me to follow and continue her journey. Joining her and Maud’s youth tap company, Sole Talk, allowed me to cultivate relationships with the other Syncopated Ladies.

Following their advice, I enrolled in the same academic programs she pursued in high school, leading to my acceptance into top colleges, in- cluding the University of Southern California, where I am currently a senior studying Business, Technology, and Design. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, the support from Chloé and Maud expanded. They brought me onto various projects, spanning TV and film, including "Spirited," where I had the opportunity to work alongside stars like Will Ferrell, Ryan Reynolds, and Octavia Spencer.

Chloé, Maud, and the Syncopated Ladies became my family away from home, offering a safe space beyond campus and cheering me on at my majorette performances. They instilled in me the belief that I could achieve anything in life, and I owe much of the woman I am today to their unwavering support and mentorship."



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