We had the good fortune of connecting with Toni Walker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Toni, how do you think about risk?
I think of risk as an entity that fuels me. Instead of running from it I tend to always find myself embracing it. I’d like to think of risk in a positive light. A metaphorical being that pushes us to break out of monotonous motions of every day life and asks us to wake up and find something to challenge our notions of everyday life.
Risk taking has played a huge part in my life and my career! I feel as though waking up everyday and choosing to pursue so many different interests is a risk in itself. There is struggle in pursuing an artistic career, but there is also so much beauty and honesty within it too. That is why I wake up every morning and choose to do what I love. It is never for the reward but almost always for the journey, lessons, and love of the risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
It’s strange when people ask me if I do this professionally, if this is my career, how to even get where I am. I honestly think I have grown a-lot, but to be quite honest I don’t really know the answers to those questions. I think I have a long way to go before truly feeling like a professional. There is so much to learn that I haven’t tapped into, which is very exciting because it always keeps me wanting more. This simply started out as a hobby and I truly enjoy this the most when it isn’t considered work. I put in a lot of time and dedication into myself and as a result I grew a community of like-minded movers that wanted to push beyond the boundaries of what movement actually is. Which is absolutely wild to me! Movement is not a brand to me, it is who I am within the depths of my soul. I think it’s simple: I move, I enjoy it, people enjoy watching, people want to try it, we move together. I want to keep growing as a dancer without stunting my growth. I think the biggest challenge is finding a way to stray away from making this my full-time career. I wouldn’t be the same dancer if it was, I would feel like a machine. I want to find balance between work and expression as a human. I don’t want to confine or diminish the things I love into some form of work. That formula simply doesn’t work for me, I feel the most free when I know the reason i’m moving is a reflection of my interpretation of the reality I exist in. I think I need proper time to reflect. I think of movement as language, and if i’m talking all the time, what am I really saying?
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Some of my favorite spots in the city are usually the ones revolving around nature. I absolutely love the Angeles National Forest. Hermit Falls is one of my favorite places, I would most definitely check out some of my favorite LA County studios such as Sadies Pole Studio, Haven LA for rental spaces and Studio 216. Some of my favorite places to visit are ones with nice views, Topanga State Park is absolutely breathtaking but it’s quite a hike. As for food and dogs Long Beach is the spot. Hilltop Park in signal hill is gorgeous during the day and at night!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to give recognition to some of the dancers that paved the way for me. Especially Black Women within the movement industry. When it comes to things like social media and content creation it unfortunately almost always favors and highlights people with lighter complexions within every industry. If it wasn’t for accounts dedicated to uplifting and supporting black women who dance I don’t think I would’ve been here! Shoutout to @Blackpolegoddess, @Blackgirlspole & @itsbaelienbish.
Ngoc Ho (@knockingbirdcreative), Rodrigo Arzate (@arz.r)