Light pours into the room, bouncing off of Erin Burch’s mocha colored skin as she enters. Perhaps she notices her glow in the body length mirrors aligning the walls. Black girls always know when their melanin is poppin'.
Erin stands with her shoulders relaxed, searching on her laptop for the perfect warm-up song. Sabrina Carpenter’s Why blares through the speakers.
“Let’s go,” Erin yells over the music. Four teenaged girls pile into the studio.
“Stretch.” Erin has started without them. The girls rush to fall into place.
Erin’s squats, stretches, and burpees expose her muscular physique, fitting for the black and neon orange running tights she’s wearing.
“Plié.” Her grace, eloquence and control reveals her passion, dance. The way she moves defies how society assumes black girls dance. Yet, the ancestors move through her hips with every sway.
“On the floor. Ugh, I love this song.” Some other pop song begins to play. Heads are bobbing in agreement. The girls like the song too.
Erin is 23, not much older than her students are. She’s relatable. She likes the music they like, she even speaks with the same white girl tone, pitch and cadence as they do. But, they can't move like she does and they may never.
Erin’s feathery lightweight motions are rooted in the sounds of the African drum. Her Fosse style steps and turns were passed down through Negro spirituals, from the gospel, to blues, jazz and even country. Her talent is innate.
Erin is 5’1, thick and curvy. But, her body along with her talent isn’t used for popular black dance like Hip-Hop or African, though she can’t help but to incorporate it. Erin loves contemporary, but her body naturally allows her to slip out of white girl relatable position. Her love for rhythm does too.
“Kat boom, kat boom boom,” she says to the girls. That sound is familiar. It’s something many black choreographers do in attempt to count out the moves while keeping dancers on beat. Erin says the famous kat boom while she shows the girls the moves once more. The moves are also familiar. They emulate the years of induction to sororities and fraternities on black campuses across the U.S., Stepping.
Erin has incorporated Kat booms, hips that sway on the 2&4, and stepping all in a piece to Ed Sheerin’s Galway. A Piece that four white girls will perform, choreographed by a black girl in the form of contemporary dance. Now that’s black girl magic.
To see more of Erin in action, you may follow her on IG: @ibby_lynx