Initially, dance was just a fun extracurricular for Boykin. She danced with a local studio until junior high, when she decided to try cheerleading. She returned to dance a few years later, joining Nina’s School of Dance in Durham.
“I didn’t realize at first, that I was different,” she said.
Boykin stood out—and continues to stand out—as a dancer. Each panel member reminisced about first meeting Boykin and the energy and passion she brings when she dances.
“Hope draws you in and captivates you with her passion. She is full of the passion,” said Nina Wheeler, Boykin’s childhood dance instructor.
She went on to study psychology at Howard University in Washington D.C. Although the school did not yet have a Dance major, Boykin took more than enough class to fulfill most other dance program requirements. Out of her 18 credits a semester, 12 were dance classes, she said.
A couple years and gentle pushes from her dance professors later, she began to explore dance as a career.
Like all who pursue artistic careers, she had difficulties along the way. After graduating from Howard University, Boykin joined Philadanco in 1994.
She didn’t perform with the company for another 8 months. Joan Myers Brown, Philadanco founder and artistic director, wanted Boykin to get into shape first.
“She told me she wanted me to be the best me that I could be before I performed,” Boykin said.
Before her debut with Philadanco, Boykin worked on costumes and lighting. She pushed though the menial jobs and continued her dance training.
In 2000, she joined Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York, where she still dances.
Despite constant rehearsals and hurriedly answering emails during rests, Boykin is energetic and glowing. Although others might be nervous about a world premiere, she remains calm.
“To me, the success has already happened. I have this opportunity and I’m here,” she said.