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Getting to know company artist

Originally from Windsor, CT, Rickey has lived in Raleigh, New York City, and Charlotte before moving to Memphis to join Collage Dance Collective in 2015. Rickey’s introduction to ballet began at the age of 16 and led him to near immediate recognition with placements in the Youth American Grand Prix and World Ballet Competition and a full scholarship to attend Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Professional Training Program. His journey is truly an inspiring example of what’s possible with commitment and hard work, no matter when or where you begin.

Rickey Flagg

When did you begin dancing and how did you get started?
I played basketball for 7 years. My dad was my coach. My sister wanted a turn for Dad to be her coach. There was a scheduling conflict so he couldn’t coach us both. I didn’t want to play for anyone, but my dad. So, given how I felt and the circumstances it was only fair to let him coach my sister and I quit. My mom got tired of me saying I was bored so she signed me up for a hip hop class. I loved it! Before I knew it, I was taking Modern, Tap and African. By 16 I made my way to the Ballet. By this time, it was time to prepare for college and I learned that I could dance as a career and I just did what I had to do from there!

What’s your favorite part of being a pro dancer and why?
My favorite part is that I get to make a living doing what I love! How many people can say that? I decided I was going to do this when I was 16 got a job by 22 and been going strong ever since! Even when it’s hard, it’s the love that makes it worth it.

Who’s your biggest fan? The one to surely bring you flowers in person or virtually?
My mom, Cynthia Flagg.

Rickey's Favorite Quote

“Speak what you seek until you see what you said.”

I like this quote because it reminds me to be aware of my thoughts because they translate to words that manifest into action in the universe.

For the new dancer and even the young trainee, what advice would you give?
Be fearless! Fall! Mess up! Look foolish! Be free! Repeat! Pay attention to details and transitions in your movement. Versatility is key!

How are you staying busy, sane and in shape, at home these days? 
I’ve been teaching classes via Zoom, I’m putting down some mulch in my patio area in the back yard along with watching movies, tv programs, and cooking with my boyfriend.

First place you plan to go to when we can go “out” again?
Back to work!

What’s one thing people might be surprised to know about you?
I like to sing!

If you weren’t a professional ballet dancer what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t a professional dancer, I would probably be doing something along the lines of psychology and social work. I enjoy being able to help, mentor, share information and my own experiences to help and encourage others.

When you’re not training long days or touring with the company, where can we find you in Memphis?
Either teaching or enjoying my personal time at home

Must have in your dance bags and dressing room?
A speaker for music and chapstick

What music artists are you listening to right now?
Megan the Stallion

What TV shows are you binge watching to make it through the quarantine?
RuPaul’s Drag Race, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor

Images captured by Raphael Baker and Brittney Scales. Video captured by Jacob Geyer for Pigeon Roost.