Last year I started to follow my next interviewee, I was very impressed to see all the things that she was doing. I must say it was interesting to see the mastermind behind the performances of artists such as Paska, Niska now known as Kanis , Trouble Boy. Through her social media she comes out as a very mature young woman, outgoing, full of life, but that’s not only what she has to offer. This girl is very talented, by just looking at all her work. We can all agree that it does speak for itself. Don’t underestimate her, because she has so much more to offer outside of dance, she is a revolutionist in the making. She doesn’t do anything without assuring herself that there’s a lesson to be learned. I myself got very inspired by all the work she is doing; through this interview I was able to learn so much about her. I really pray that Haiti will make more space for young talents like her to grow, it would be a shame if she lost hope.
Who is Séphora Drouillard?
Sephora Drouillard is 20 years old, who is hoping to change our society through dance. What really matters to me is that I inspire others to be themselves.
What started this whole love for dancing?
Dance chose me, not the other way around. I was born with a passion for dancing. All I ever did was follow the dream and live my passion fully.
Could you describe the warmth or feeling you get when you are dancing?
Dance gives me a purpose, as well as a true meaning to my life. I dance to exist, not the other way around. For me a life without dance doesn’t exist. When I’m dancing, I come alive, I feel more me.
You are a young entrepreneur, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching Dansalou?
When it comes to Dansalou, there’s an endless opportunity to learn. I mean whether it is logistic or about working with people. I have learned that it’s all about starting at the right moment instead of rushing through things. I have learned to be careful to those who talk more than the doers. To trust those who let their works speak for themselves. The most important lesson is to work smarter not harder.
What gave you the idea to start Dansalou?
I have always wanted to have my own dance school. It has always been my dream as a child. But never in a million years did I expect to have the dance so early on, especially at 19 years old. After my performances with artists such as Paska and Niska, I would get messages from other people, asking me if I would teach them. One message, from a young girl who was asking me to teach her how to dance. That’s when I said why not open my dance studio. I decided to try and see where this would lead me. This was the beginning of Dansalou.
In a country like Haiti where instability reigns, how do you manage to stay inspired or focus?
To be honest, my dreams when it comes to dance, don’t only limit to Haiti. I want to travel the world because of my art, and talent. But I decided to start the work in Haiti, given that is my country. Also, I currently reside in Haiti. Staying inspired is pretty easy for me, because everything inspires me. You would think that, because of the political situations I wouldn’t be. Instead I analyze the problems of the country and I think of the ways through dance I can bring some solutions. So, for me dancing is my way of finding solutions and ways that I can help.
Outside of Dansalou what do you hope to accomplish?
I am currently attending law school, I have political aspiration, which will be part of Dansalou. The reason why, it is my hope to show that we can accomplish a lot through dance. Everything that I will accomplish in the future will always be through DANSALOU. I truly believe that we can accomplish lots of things through dance.
For those who are inspired by your work, what advice can you give them?
The messages I want to send to the youth is that to: “Work hard, surround yourself with people that you love and respect. There is nothing you can’t Do”.
How does it feel to accomplish so much as such a young age ?
I’m 20, to be honest I don’t think that I have accomplished enough. There’s more that I need to do. because my list is long. Every time I have accomplished something, I look at the list and I feel like that I haven’t done enough. Then again when I look back at all I have accomplished I know that I am blessed, still I must work extremely hard to accomplish all my dreams.
You are in school; how do you manage it all without feeling one is taking more time from the other?
Life is all about prioritizing the things that are important to you. When you learn how to organize, it is a little bit easier to stay in control of what needs to be done. Believe me, it is not easy you know, because sometimes I do make mistakes. but I always try my best to stay on top of what’s important. I have always wanted to be a lawyer, and I also want to fully live my passion.So, for that I’m that ready to make sacrifices to live them fully while trying to balance everything.
You’ve always been outspoken about your dad’s feelings about you dancing. How do you get them to see your point of views?
My father is like every Haitian parent who would like to see their daughters become lawyers, doctors, engineers. He doesn’t believe that I can be successful in Haiti with dance as a career, he believes it’s just a distraction to what I should focus on. It’s not his fault, when you think about it, it’s just how he was raised and what our society believes. We have so many preconceptions about professional dancers.When I’ve decided to open the dance school, he was totally against it, but I went through with it. Changing my father’s ideas of what dancing is it’s very important to me. Today his idea of dancing has changed. I’m not going to say it totally has changed but it has evolved from what it used to be. Even when he doesn’t say anything to me but through his smiles I can see how proud he is of my progress through Dansalou. Just seeing him smile, means the world to me.
You have been able to travel overseas to represent Haiti, how was the whole experience?
Because of Dansalou, I was able to have one of the best experiences of my life thus far. To be able to represent Haiti in Switzerland was such an honor. The experience itself was unforgettable. What was even amazing was their reactions to my performance as well as their hospitality. The whole experience was magical.
You’ve worked with so many artists in our community, who is the dream collaboration?
Yes, I have worked with lots of artists, such as Paska, Kanis , Fatima, Michael Brun, Trouble Boy, Youry Vixamar, Danae Pierre. Last year I had the opportunity to coach the ladies for Miss World Haiti. Through each experience, I was able to learn different things. I am extremely lucky to have been able to work with them, and thankful that they believed in my talents. I would love to work more with Michael Brun, because I am a huge fan of the work his doing to further our culture. I have always been a fan of Kanis, so having to work with her was one of my best/favorite collaboration. After working together, the first time, she became a sister, an advisor to me. She was one of the people who encouraged me to open the dance studio. With me not wanting to give up, she used to say when you open, I’ll come in for lessons. That was her way of pushing me to go after my dream, therefore she became one of Dansalou advisors. I don’t make any big decisions without consulting with her first. This collaboration brought me a friend, a sister, and advisor, and for that I’m eternally grateful.
You have always spoken highly of Viviane Gauthier, what does she mean to you/ your career?
When I was younger Viviane Gauthier was my dance teacher. She has always been someone that I have looked up to. Her passion for dance speaks to me whether she was talking or dancing. Like I have said before Viviane is a National treasurer, that Haiti wasn’t able to honor. She’s my idol. She is one of the main reasons I hope to accomplish certain things in the dance world. I want to change the preconceptions that people have of dance in Haiti because a legend like Viviane Gauthier should be unforgettable to everyone. Every generation coming after should know who she is.
You are always talking about other dancers, why do you support them? Do You ever feel like there is a need to have any competitions?
I’m not here only to dance, I am here to make a difference as well. I’m not just a dancer but dance is my passion and who I am. This is one of the main reasons why I support every dancer that I know. There’s a bigger picture, which is changing the face of dance in Haiti and for this we need to unify. I’m not in competition with anyone, I believe that every dancer can succeed in their own merit. Each dancer brings something different, has their own little thing that defines them. Which would make each one of us authentic. Yes, I have run into people who wants to compete or challenge us, but my team and I don’t respond to anything negative. Therefore, I have always stretched on this; Dansalou is not only a dance school, its more than that; it’s a PHILOSOPHY. Life is not all about competition, rather a JOURNEY.
Do you have any other passion outside of dance?
I love communications, I also wanted to be a journalist, also this is one of the reasons why I’m studying law. I love to do research, debate, cooking. I really love to cook.
Being the oldest out of all your siblings, what’s one thing you hope they’ll learn from you?
Being the oldest it’s not easy at all. You are always making sure that you are leading by example. I tell them all the time: “Work hard to achieve your dreams, then you can take a breath. But always work hard.”
For a young person who still lives in Haiti, what do we need to better change Haiti?
To be totally honest with you, I have been through a lot of downs with Dansalou. Being a young entrepreneur in a country like Haiti its not an easy task, especially as a young woman. We are living in a society where they have the tendency to limit women. First thing that needs to be done is to change how young people are being treated by the government. They are negligent, irresponsible when it comes to pushing them to grow. When you look at other countries, they put structure in place for their youth to be able to grow, develop, and exploit their talents. They have such brilliants ideas, talents, but they don’t have the supports, and there is a lack of money which makes it harder.
What other things does Sefo like to do?
I love to cook, eat, go to the beach, be around my friends…
With such a busy schedule, how do you make time for Love, friends, and everything else?
When I first started with Dansalou it was hard to make time for my family or friends, because at that time I was the only dance teacher. But now it’s easier due to the fact I have other dance teachers. What kept me going was after every big win I could feel that the sacrifices were worth it. Those arguments with my father were not for nothing.
What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
I look at all my accomplishments, and I think about the people who believe in me. That is what I use as my daily motivation, and myself included. I tell myself that: “Sefo YOU NEED TO KEEP WORKING HARD, KEEP GOING. THERE IS NO TURNING BACK NOW”.
If you could keep eating one thing only, what would it be?
PIZZA (I’m a pizza lover)
Sefo is happy: when she eats and dances! I LOVE to dance and eat😊.
If you had the power to do one thing, what would it be and why?
First thing I would do is change the system and give the country to the young leaders. The reason why is because I think that we are the real victims of the politicians, we have more to lose and have lost more than anyone, that’s what makes us such a revolutionary generation. WE understand more what it feels like to lose and be stuck. We have been through so much; they don’t seem to care. We need a change, and if I could that’s what I would do.
Haiti is not always painted in the best light, what’s one thing you would say about Haiti to someone who might want to visit one day?
We have an extraordinary culture, our beaches are beautiful, “our griot” (fried pork) is incomparable. If you haven’t been to Haiti for vacations I promise, you haven’t experienced anything yet. We are gold, literally.
It’s a tradition for me to ask anyone that I’m interviewing if they have one last thing they would like to say. I don’t know, a message or anything that I might have left out to the readers.
A massive thank you to all who have supported me at the beginning, and still do. Thank you for believing in me, you are my strength of inspiration. Thank you Sergine for choosing me for this interview, the work you are doing is super amazing. We need more Haitian women like you in the world.
Thank you Séphora for being a part of my blog! Thank you for your kind words! I can only hope to be an inspiration to others just like you are to me. I look forward to watch you grow and accomplish more things. Sky is the limit, don’t ever stop !
Lady Sergine 💋🌹
PS: her Instagram is @_sefo, @dansalouayiti. Follow her to keep up with her journey.