Brianna Rhodes: 'I felt like dancing just wasn’t enough'

The 2019 Ohio State University graduate spent the past year stretching herself as an independent artist.

Dave Ghose
Columbus Monthly
Brianna Rhodes

Brianna Rhodes, Poet and Dancer

A dancer all her life, the Dayton native discovered her voice as a poet amid the 2020 racial justice protests.

On mixing poetry and dance: In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, Rhodes was stuck as an artist. She felt the emotion and pain of the moment, but she was unable to express herself in dance until she started to write down her feelings. “The words just started coming to my mind, and I started to dance, and I was realizing that they really exist together. The words are just the verbal manifestation of my physical being. I felt like dancing just wasn’t enough. So, once I got the words out, it opened the floodgates, and then I was able to move again.” 

Brianna Rhodes

On finding a new audience: Rhodes worked with the Maroon Arts Group to put together a video, titled “Color(less),” that features her dancing to a poem about racial inequality. “Ever since I put out ‘Color(less),’ I’ve had about four or five opportunities to either redo that, expand upon it or be brought back as a spoken word artist. I’m kind of baffled by it because it’s one of those things that was a hobby that actually became a part of you.” 

Brianna Rhodes

On the joys of independence: For a dancer, the typical career goal is to get a job with a company. But a year of upheaval is leading Rhodes down a different path. She now wants to focus on freelance art, which provides her with more freedom to follow her muse. “If I’m with a company, then I’m waiting for someone to tell me when to go. When I’m by myself, then I can just go.” 

Rhodes created an original dance to her poem "Black Women." Watch a video of her performing the dance along the Scioto Mile below: