Alumnus Lloyd A. Boyd III applies UNCSA training to perform at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Contemporary dance alumnus Lloyd A. Boyd III’s (B.F.A. ‘14) career has been anything but linear. With credits including the international tour of “An American in Paris,” the 2018 Video Music Awards show dancing with rap artists A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott, HBO’s “Succession,” the Metropolitan Opera's production of “La Traviata” and the upcoming Apple TV film “Spirited,” Boyd has spent his years since graduating learning from a wide array of artistic opportunities. Recently, he has added a new role to his impressive resume as a company member for the historic Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is a modern dance company focused on highlighting BIPOC dancers and stories. It was founded in 1958 by Alvin Ailey, one of the most popular choreographers of the twentieth century.

Lloyd Boyd III headshot for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Contemporary dance alumnus Lloyd A. Boyd III is currently in his first season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Boyd is excited to be a part of the company’s Spring 2022 tour performing pieces like “Revelations,” an Ailey repertoire piece that uses spirituals, song-sermons, gospel songs and holy blues music to “fervently explore the places of deepest grief and holiest joy in the soul.” There are several other pieces included in the tour such as “The River,” a ballet piece that Ailey choreographed for the American Ballet Theatre, and “Lazarus,” a house piece by well-known Hip-hop choreographer Rennie Harris.  

Making connections and overcoming obstacles

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Boyd chose UNCSA for a slightly different reason than most people: he made a pact with two friends that they would attend the same school, and they were all accepted to become Fighting Pickles. Together with Taylor Jones and Nehemiah Spencer, they made the move from Ohio to Winston-Salem to pursue degrees in dance. Though he says the pact was the main reason he chose UNCSA, he says he “loved every bit about my experience.” 

His time at UNCSA gave him many connections that he still maintains. Boyd lists alumnus Juel D. Lane as one of the most important, as Lane has served as his mentor since they met while Boyd was in school. “We became close friends while Lane was on campus teaching, and he has become a big influence on my dance career,” says Boyd. He also lists Summer Dance Director Ashley Lindsey as a fellow alumnus that he regularly connects with to discuss dance and their respective creative journeys. 

Lloyd A Boyd in Larry Keigwin's "Kingdom"

Lloyd A. Boyd III in Larry Keigwin's "Kingdom" for Spring Dance 2012. / Photo: Peter Mueller

His dance journey hasn’t been easy, as he had to deal with not one, but two back surgeries to treat scoliosis. His second surgery occurred during his final year at UNCSA, meaning that he was unable to participate in any performances during his final semester. He adds that his classmates and faculty were integral to helping him complete his senior year showcase piece. Another challenge during the early part of his career was moving to New York City – where he currently resides – after graduation with no job or safety net, only “faith, hopes and a dream.” 

Trust the process

When giving advice to dance students, Boyd draws on his UNCSA experience, urging them to “be open to different styles of dance and different experiences that come your way.” Boyd’s early dance training was done at the Cleveland School of the Arts, where he received a thorough education about Black American dancers and choreographers. “When I got to UNCSA, I had the opportunity to study different styles of European dance and their respective histories… I became very interested in learning as much as I could,” he explains. 

Boyd adds that he tells dancers to “trust the process” explaining that throughout his dance education there were times that he doubted himself but ultimately continued on his chosen path due in no small part to the dedicated faculty in the School of Dance. “Brenda Daniels, Fanchon Cordell, Trish Casey and [former dean] Susan Jaffe were all very strict, while also being caring and supportive,” says Boyd. “They all want you to be the best dancer you can be, and that shows in their teaching styles.”

With a few acting credits under his belt, Boyd says that he’d like to find more opportunities to act, either on Broadway, television, or wherever else he feels creatively inspired. Looking ahead to the future, Boyd hopes to “continue to grow as both a dancer and an artist and to try new things.” Wherever his journey takes him, one thing is clear: he will continue to lean on his artistic education, UNCSA connections and lived experiences to share his talents with the world. 

by Melissa Upton-Julio

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February 17, 2022