Sean Nguyen-Hilton is an artist and educator working in Atlanta. He is a co-founder and team member of Fly on a Wall, which operates out of The Windmill Arts Center in East Point. He is also a full-time lecturer of dance at Kennesaw State University and a founding board member of DanceATL. (Photo by Christina Massad)
When the pandemic hit I worked through a lot of trauma that I experienced during my earlier virtuosic career. Usually that sort of internal dive can be balanced with being social and talking to other people about ideas but because there was such a lack of that, it brought me way, way down into a place that was often difficult to get out of. With the Black Lives Matters protests, I also did a lot of deep reflection about what it is to be a White queer male in the Southeast.
I had a lot of fear and uncertainty and anxiety about my students at KSU. Was I really reaching them? How do I show up for them every day and have more compassion for them? Could I have done more? As a 38-year-old man I was struggling day to day even though I was home with my amazing husband and my dogs. At Fly on a Wall, we asked ourselves how do we help the dance community in this moment? We donated over 265 hours of studio time to 26 artists in the fall of 2020. People were hungry to be in a bigger space and to move, and we had no restrictions on what they could do outside of Covid protocols.
I hope that we continue to move forward and find pause when we need to. I hope more people get vaccinated. I hope we protect those around us by wearing masks. I am in a lot of uncertain spaces, where some people are masked and some are not, which creates a social tension I hope we can navigate with grace and care. I hope people continue to grow and change. I see that as something I am called to do — sometimes I am terrible at it; sometimes I can embrace it.