Having worked with dance world legends like JaQuel Knight, Richy Jackson and Beyonce, Courtni Poe has learned a lot about the creative process and the importance of authenticity. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Poe, a Los Angeles-based dancer and choreographer on a walk through her Highland Park neighborhood. With works that intersects her interests in fashion, dance, and film, Courtney brings a unique and exciting new perspective to the dance world.

BLNCD: As a choreographer, a lot of your personal work this year has involved translating fashion campaigns into dance videos. How did that concept come about? 

CP: I started getting into fashion this year because I was a live in nanny for a celebrity stylist. She got me my first Off-White shirt and I was like, I’ve heard a lot about this Virgil [Ablog] guy, I should look into it. I watched every Off-White runway show. I was really inspired by his work, and I thought, “Maybe I can take a campaign and turn it into dance. I made a piece about what I would do if I was in charge of creating an Off-White runway show. After that I went to Virgil’s photography exhibit called Coming of Age, and I saw his Boyhood Campaign. Based off that exhibit, I was inspired to create a video about gun control in schools.

BLNCD: You’ve had the opportunity to work with some really amazing choreographers like JaQuel Knight and Richy Jackson, what have your most formative moments as a dancer?

CP: I met Richy in his class, almost two years ago now. I took his class often and he became a mentor for me.  The jobs I’ve gotten are cool, but I feel like the people who are in my life now, and the connections I’ve made are definitely my favorite part.

BLNCD: Last year you danced in Beyonce’s “Spirit” music video. What was that experience like?

CP: That was like my biggest dream when moved to LA and then it happened and I’m still so speechless about it. It was a lot of hard work, but it was really great.

BLNCD: How has your experience working as a professional dancer impacted who you are as a choreographer?

CP: I actually never felt like I was meant to be a professional dancer, even when I was in art school. So I never was really interested or excited about performing. I was always excited about the choreography program. Because I got such a great experience this year as a professional dancer, I know how to treat people and how dancers should be treated in order to perform their best and feel cared for. People operate well when they feel loved and I feel like that’s something that’s really lacking and I experienced that as a professional dancer. I learned a lot watching how choreographers work under pressure and under stress, and how I can do the same but in a healthy way for my dancers. I learned how to be someone who operates from love rather than ego and how to take the time to create good work.

BLNCD: We’re almost done with 2019, any other highlights of the year for you?

CP: The film Brandon and I did together, SELAH, has been my favorite part of this entire year. My world is surrounded by filmmakers, photographers, and stylists, so I think is going to be interesting to see how that comes into play in 2020. 

BLNCD: You’re excited to see how it all intersects.

CP: Yeah, because I feel like something cool will happen. I’m friends with not only dancers and choreographers but also Creative Directors, DP’s, photographers, stylists, designers. It feels like I’m on the right path even though it’s different.

BLNCD: What is your advice for someone who’s thinking about taking dance more seriously?

CP: Things happen quicker when you’re being yourself. I feel like my life changed when I just was like unapologetically doing my own thing and knew that what I was doing was right for me. And even if it was different, it wasn’t wrong. It took me a long time to be okay with that. I feel like I wasted a lot of time my first year here because I was looking at everyone else’s way of getting to where I wanted to be and I was trying to do that and that wasn’t my way. It’s like the work comes when you’re yourself, because it’s original. The people come when you’re yourself, because you’re original. Nobody wants a second version of anything. Everyone’s looking for the new things.

BLNCD: How have you been enjoying the BLNCD products? 

CP: Oh, yes. I actually have.

BLNCD: Do you have a favorite item?

CP: I do. Okay, this is hard. I’m going to tell you my routine for them now.  I tried the CBD tinctures and I loved it. After a long day of dance, I put it in my water or tea, and I can feel relaxed quickly, which is nice. When I roll out my body, it’s not as painful.  I like the lavender salve for when I can’t sleep, because sometimes I get really bad anxiety and I think the lavender helps me relax, on top of the fact that the CBD makes me calm down. I always put it on my chest and my neck and my temples, and it helps me go to sleep quicker, every time.  I use BLNCD’s roll-on first thing in the morning, and everyone compliments me on how good I smell. I also feel like I’m able to operate during the day and I’m happier and relaxed.

BLNCD: Yeah, we love using the roll-on as a scent.

CP: Yeah, it’s like perfume.

Portrait Photography by Martha Kirby

Story by John Mark