transcenDANCE recently lost a dear friend and long-time supporter, Danah Fayman. We are so grateful for the encouragement and generosity she shared with us over the past 11 years and we are incredibly touched that her family asked that gifts be made to transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project in lieu of flowers.
It is with a full heart that I share about my personal journey with Danah Fayman, as well as the collective one through transcenDANCE. Danah lived a long, good life, and my life along with the many lives of our students would have been dramatically different had it not been for Danah.
Danah supported transcenDANCE for all eleven years of our existence. Her contributions got our grassroots organization off the ground and sustained us with the basic needs for our entirety. Danah always believed in the vision and work of transcenDANCE. She believed in my leadership and she was taken by the talents, passion, and commitment of our students on and off stage. transcenDANCE became important to Danah and, year after year, that was affirmed as she saw our students perform, heard directly from them, and witnessed alumni giving back to incoming students and the organization.
I met Danah in 2004, the year before I co-founded transcenDANCE. I had been working in City Heights at an after-school youth drop-in center and I piloted a teen dance troupe as peer education through the arts program. Danah came to our very first performance held at the Lyceum Theatre. She was delighted by what she saw and called me right away to introduce herself. She invited me for lunch and we had an instant connection. It was warm and easy. I was in awe of who she was and that she had taken notice of our small program. She was in awe of what the students created and interested in their life stories. Danah and I talked a lot about the arts, and we also talked about so much more – family, raising children, civic engagement, her career as a writer, travel, politics, our upbringings. We began a friendship – one that that deepened and grew over the next thirteen years.
Most of my memories of Danah are our personal times one-on-one. We would meet for lunch, or sometimes go to dinner and a performance, or I would go to her home. I would always share about what was going on in the transcenDANCE world, of course, and then we would have personal conversation. I remember coming to her with the idea to start transcenDANCE, our own non-profit organization, in 2005. She was cautiously supportive. I am sure she had seen many non-profits come and go. She wasn’t sure if I knew what I was taking on. I was sure I wanted to do it and I was totally naïve to all that it entailed. Danah saw me work hard and never give up. She saw the students work hard and never give up. And she saw us in our full joy every year when the public performance came around. She was always in the audience smiling from ear to ear like a proud Mother.
I have taken pause many times over the past thirteen years thinking about her support and generosity, and many times recently since learning of her passing. In those moments, I would get overwhelmed in my gratitude for what she has allowed me to do and us to be. Danah Fayman saw something in me at 28 years old that led her down this path with me and transcenDANCE by my side. There are so many arts and culture projects and organizations that Danah was introduced to and that she supported over her lifetime. And Danah saw something special in us. I don’t know exactly what that was, although I tried to ask her many times. She gave me responses that satisfied me, but there is some magic around it still.
Danah made the impossible possible for transcenDANCE. She saw the deep sense of community amongst the students. She appreciated their pride and ownership of who we are and what we stand for and how dance made everything better. Danah was our Fairy Godmother and now becomes our Angel. Her spirit will always live on within transcenDANCE. She will become part of the story we tell with every new cohort of students. Her spirit of generosity and call to take action in service of others are qualities that we will always strive to hold up as an organization and as the people within it.
Danah – transcenDANCE celebrates your life at this time and will continue do so.
On behalf of our Students, Alumni, Staff, Artists, and Board of Directors…. We love you, Danah! And we thank you! We will never stop expressing our thanks.
Co-Founder & Executive/Artistic Director