Beyond The Lens – Massachusetts ballet dancer & model Lunara Devers is back on our front page after finally completing her interview with us on Monday afternoon. I got in contact with the model in late January then sent her the questions on February 8th. I thought it would be fun finding out what’s going on with her since we last talked back in November. Enjoy the interview!
~*~*Beyond The Lens /w Lunara Devers*~*~
Internet Hollywood: Hey Lunara! Welcome back to the Internet Hollywood universe. It’s almost been three months since we talked last time so I wanted to make it a priority of mine to complete a brand new interview with you since we are at the beginning of a new year. How have things been going for you so far this year?
Devers: Hi! Things have been going well, thank God. Life is so nuts, every single one of my plans changed in the beginning of this year. Literally, every gig and every trip I had planned got turned around but, other things have come up and like so, I’m piecing together the new year like I’ve done most of my life. Trying to stay present while I explore and try new things. Sometimes things fall apart but I’m trying to build on the work I’ve been doing these last few years while making fewer mistakes. I’m happy to be back in the classroom teaching after winter break. I’m working on a play and planning my next photoshoot. A lot like 2017 but more experienced and hoping things will go smoother.
Internet Hollywood: I noticed how active you have been getting on your social media pages with your dance videos. What made you want to get more into live streaming your dances on live videos for everyone to see?
Devers: After getting over the fear and terror of being unedited and unfiltered in front of everyone you have ever met…. I realized that I’m unedited when I teach dance class and I haven’t been fired or sued yet so I must be on the right track. Also, recording something is definitely not the final form of your choreography, your body or your thought process. We always want to go back and edit things and I don’t have all that time rn. I like live videos because I can interact with people. I dance and work out because it’s information I can give back to my community, and it’s health and fitness. We have to work on that stuff everyday so I’m not going to go out of business because someone took notes on a live video I posted one day. We need motivation and movement on a daily basis. It’s one of my favorite ways to go about life, moving and working and dancing so it’s not a big deal to share that. Mistakes happen, I hope I don’t end up as a meme one day but life is about getting back up stronger after you have fallen and that is the most important thing you can teach in a dance class. I was literally telling my students a huge secret in this industry which is that it’s not always the most talented person we see “break,” “make it” or even have a career in the arts. It’s usually the most relentless person or one who refuses to quick. After two knee surgeries even I’m wondering why I do this, lol! The relationship we have with our bodies and with ourselves is the longest relationship we are going to have and I just wanted to share some information to pass the time. I don’t think information should be held hostage at $100,000 to $500,000 for an outdated education to then try to live and work in a society that gives little value to fine art. I work but I struggle like everyone else so live videos are a cool way to check in with friends, share information and not have it as a permanent thing on your social media since those videos are not super edited. I also wondered how long I could live stream. like can I just put on the live video and fall asleep in front of everyone and just let the ish roll for hours? Hmmmmmmm, lol!
Internet Hollywood: It isn’t much of a secret that you are brilliant on your feet and move them so wonderfully when you’re expressing yourself in ballet. When did Afro-Carribean dance become one of the dances you teach to your students and why do you feel they need to know it?
Devers: I feel like I was always working extra hard to fit in and it was just never going to work for me. For one thing, I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing. I don’t like feeling crowded, maybe that’s why I wasn’t about that tour bus life. Maybe since I was an only child and had to advise myself about all the stuff that we keep from our parents; maybe that’s why I’ve needed my independence so badly. Other than my parents I’ve only ever counted on myself. Or maybe I really do strong connection with nature and one day I will move to a cave, idk. Either way, it could have been my thick things that didn’t fit in with the ballerina mold that made me decide to find my own audience. New York City Center and Lincoln center are very nice but I feel like NYC only sees real diversity in dance (in a large venue) once a year during the Fall for dance festival where there are dance companies from all around the world. Otherwise, there is opera, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Alvin Ailey. Most of the time when we see dancers of color they are performing European styles of dance. Ballet and modern. These maybe the only companies that can afford/fill the venue (I mean promotion dictates a great deal of what we consider to be art). Maybe it is simpler to give people what they are accustomed and the thoughts and feelings that are easily accessible to them rather than present something “foreign.” So, over the last ten years, I realized I wasn’t very interested in things that have already been done and are popular and everyone is trying to do, over and over again. I also realized that although it’s traditional and has a long history, no one was bothering to teach or advocate for Afro-Carribean people and their culture. The Caribbean, where so much of the slave trade and colonialism went down. The colonialism that left empires tattered and broken. Empires people would love to forget and just rewrite our stories as “trying to find work in the world of ballet” or “all the stuff that has happened to us when we get here.” That is shameful when our stories; our history is much deeper than all of that. I’m bringing something to the table, something not often seen and doesn’t depend on a large company of a fancy venue. Black dance isn’t less valuable and should not be easily forgotten. When I realized all of this I felt the importance of keeping this art form alive and passing it down the way it has been passed down since the beginning of time and that is through social gatherings. Parties, dance class or maybe seeing my friends on a live feed. These are things that can only happen in the moment and I’m working on that this year, remembering to be in the moment, not thinking about the next, best, perfect selfie to post.
Internet Hollywood: Have you ever suffered an injury while doing any of your dances?
Devers: I’ve had two knee surgeries. I’m pretty sure I wrote about it, in depth, in my autobiography but, yeah, it’s not a pretty process. I had options, work in an office forever or recover and dance. I never had any specific dance companies in mind that I wanted to join. Dancing is a personal thing for me. I don’t care whose sees it, it’s about my ability and I wasn’t going to be limited. I’ve always had a variety of interests. Sometimes I don’t think I came to this world to be clamoring after one red carpet or another, I came here to experience things. Some of these experiences have been a God-awful waste of time but…. Now I know, while other experiences have left my heart feeling super full (my homegirl that called me the other day for no reason, the rainbow I saw in the sky the other evening while the sun was getting low on my way to teach the dance class. I wondered if anyone else saw it. The moment students figure out a step and now they’ve got it!) I think these experiences are all we are going to take with us. It’s definitely not material things, that’s for sure. Even the staple they used to fix my knee is going to stay behind so I have to push myself to have experiences and get out there and perform.
Internet Hollywood: Are you currently working on anything right now?
Devers: I feel like I have spent the last few years working on my surroundings. I need a clean environment, space, peace, and quiet to function. I have done so much purging of personal items, social media and people, it can be scary. Trying to unlearn the brainwashing of mainstream media or a mediocre education. I have showcases and photoshoots coming up so that is something that at this point I definitely need to work on from the inside out. Sometimes we have to work “regular” jobs to get the materials we need to make art. That’s how artists think. I’m not the one, to ever, in my life be embarrassed by having an honest job, being as frugal as possible and saving up for a big goal. I’m not. Yes, I will do Uber, work at CVS, keep my secretary job and teach to buy that $200 tutu to go perform and make them $100. Cuz that’s the thing, most people don’t understand the initial investments made by artists and if you’re not a “big name” that’s what you’re haggling with people about, a few hundred dollars. Meanwhile I’m like, my name is like five consonants you can’t pronounce….. how much bigger does the name need to be for me to pay my student loan? Lmao! But I digress. I better keep making sure I fit that tutu cuz we aren’t buying another. It’s good to invest in quality costume pieces because one day you’ll have a student or company member borrow it and you’ll be helping one another out. So yeah, I’m growing my business and working on working from the inside out. When we are going around doing all the things we HAVE to do so we can do the things we WANT to do sometimes we forget the things we NEED to do, like taking care of ourselves, our diet, our skin. Our skin is like the first impression we make, it’s the first thing people see. I think people will notice quicker, that you are struggling. if your skin looks dull rather than if you have a hole in your shirt. So I always take my makeup off at night, lol, and use extra hydrating lotion and smile and tell people everything is perfect. I mean if they believe it’s up to them, right? Lol!
Internet Hollywood: What has been your main focus now that we are at the beginning of a brand new year?
Devers: I feel like I have taken a lot of time to reflect. Whether it’s because I have made it a habit for myself or because I finally had some quality time during the holidays but…. Life doesn’t go according to plan or on schedule. You can’t force an awakening on yourself. Sometimes inspiration and growth hit you and you start putting plans into action or doing responsible things and you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. I’ve been asking myself “why?” a lot lately. As in, why did a certain situation hurt me, why wasn’t the treatment I received from certain people been enough for me? Was it me? I came off too strong, I gave too much of myself and it wasn’t reciprocated. I’ve been focusing on not feeling frustrated with the time I wasted on some people or situations but rather understanding that you put good out there and it’ll come back in unexpected ways. Do good things and help others because it’s not always the person you helped out that is going to help you. You might help someone one day and never speak to them again, but, you’ll see your good deeds at work when all of a sudden you feel like”why are these people, who barely know, me lending me a hand” and it’s probably because those folks are aware of one of those universal truths; we are all stuck here on this planet or on this plane of existence together and if we can’t help one another we should at least not hurt one another. I have to work on understanding not everyone is there yet. Some people feel entitled or are completely inconsiderate of other people’s feelings. Detect who those people are, protect yourself from people like that, show love to people who tolerate and support you and try to understand that immature people exist and there isn’t much to do about it except ignore them. It’s like, there was nothing there for me the first time around, I got busy making progress while some people, places and things stayed just as outdated and the same and I wonder, what was it I thought I was looking for in those situations? You can present opportunities and ideas to people but you can’t make them take it. So I’m working on moving on, on my own, as I’ve been doing, giving what I can, keeping what I must and trying to understand that folks should have realized what I was bringing to the table when they had my attention. I’m a very loyal person until I realize that I’m just an option to some people then I’m like, I never happened, ok? The most some people ever deserve from me ever again, is either reading through this interview or my super filtered online platform. They’ll never have my love or my loyalty again, and it actually hurts me. I love helping people but some people don’t even have the decency of telling you to go to hell, they’ll just try to keep you there as a card they can play.
Internet Hollywood: Last question; Are you planning on trying out anything different from what you use to somewhere down the line in your career?
Dash: I think that is the wonderful thing about acting, you have to try on so many other careers and lifestyles. One day you’re an astronaut, one day you’re an Olympic swimmer (well portraying one anyway) and you get to try a little of these different lifestyles. So, I hope I do get to try different things with my career. I don’t have a specific project in mind rn other than teaching and spreading information through my social media and live streams. I love doing mixed media but I’m not switching from teaching dance to like reupholstering couches anytime soon. I will probably be sticking with the performance arts for now. I have been teaching for a little while now because it has always been in the back of my mind to teach. You can immediately impact people’s lives beyond “oh look at me, I’m doing it, you can do it tooooooo…..” Cute, but how? *Kanye face. Put people on. Help them navigate this industry. Teach them to recognize when people put you on a back burner and you have to get up and make your own moves and teach people how to make that happen. You can write a grant…. Who the heck do you present it to tho? And what do you do when grant funding for the arts is being cut? Quit?Some people have a great time making people believe and I guess in some cases I’ve just seen too much. People start to look so unnatural in their efforts to look like a doll, lol! And I say, well isn’t that the point? To make people believe. I guess it depends what you are going for. Are you going for something honest or is it one of those tv shows where the actresses wake up with fake eyelashes on? I mean in this interview alone I started getting all spiritual and thinking about other planets. So, when I decide to do something different, in addition to teaching, it’s probably going to be in an effort to make something people are not accustomed to, something uncommon (not usually the popular choice) and something in the field of production and getting my actual culture seen, as opposed to fallacies we see on tv.
Internet Hollywood: Thank you for the interview, Devers!
~*~*Thank you for reading*~*~
Lunara Devers: Instagram
First picture (photographer): Nathan Seavey
Second picture (photographer): Mosaab Alsaray
Third picture (photographer): Antoine Cabou