Blue Sky Project- Katherine Mann and Rodney Veal collaboration (Contributed)

Daytonian of the Week: Rodney Veal

These days, Rodney Veal is more into the post-modern performance art thing than ballet.

“It is confusing for the audience, but much easier on the body,” joked Veal, who is adjunct faculty for both Stivers School for the Arts and Sinclair Community College, among other things.

The Jefferson High School grad and Wright-Dunbar Village resident dabbed in dance for fun while studying political science and visual arts at Eastern Michigan University, but didn’t start it seriously until about age 25.

After college gradation, he took a job in an Ohio Department of Transportation Garage as a mechanical clerk 1.

“My boss was Creola Reese,” Veal recalled. “She was a spit fire.”

Rodney Veal: “The physical intimacy of touching other people, of moving through space, makes you a more grounded and aware person. … It is a very powerful bond of connection.” Contributed photo.
Photo: Contributed photo

While working for ODOT, Veal signed up for a dance class at Sinclair Community College taught by Camille Izard Morris, now the director the Oakwood Ballet.

He had no idea where it would take him.

“I started to enjoy donuts too much,” Veal said. “I started heading towards looking like Eddie Murphy from the ‘Nutty Professor’.”

Veal’s potential was recognized by the Dayton Ballet and he joined its second company.

He later went on to dance for Gem City Ballet founder Barbara Pontecorvo.

Veal recently received his M.F.A in Choreography from The Ohio State University. The Interdisciplinary artist performance and former TEDxDayton speaker/performer’s installation on the Ghetto will open Feb. 25 at University of Dayton’s ArtStreet.

We checked in with Veal as part of our Daytonian of the Week series spotlights interesting Dayton area residents.

What do you do?

A multi-disciplinary artist/educator and the unlikeliest TV talk show host for ThinkTV’s “The Art Show.”

Label yourself.

Not really into labels. I am a pretty private person for such a public guy.

What superpower would you love to have?

Super-human strength would be cool.

What inspires you about life in Dayton?

How readily people embrace and accept that you are an artist. Their joy fuels me.

How did you push through challenges?

Since I am a Fire sign (Aries), I have a tendency to have more energy than the average person. I have the stamina to push through anything thrown at me. Never underestimate my resolve.

February is black history month. How do you think black Daytonians have contributed to black history? Is there something that brings your personal pride?

The Story of Dayton will always be incomplete if we do not acknowledge the contributions of all of our citizens. I very proud of the fact that like James Pate, Crystal PerkinsSierra Leone and myself have benefited from the pioneering work of Bing Davis and the late Jeraldyne Blunden. We following the path blazed by their genius.

How does race impacted your life in Dayton? Have you or do you face any obstacles because you are black?

Being the son of southerners, I am constantly amazed how well that sense of decorum and social graces imparted by my parents and grandparents has offset some of the indignities and ignorance that I sometimes encounter. I feel sorry for people who spend their days in the toxic grip of bigotry, it stops them from evolving as a human being.

How racially integrated is life in Dayton?

There are still integration issues that are cloaked in divisions of class and education. The stories I could tell.

Do you think race relations have improved? What should be done to improve them?

I am guardedly optimistic, for every leap forward as a society we stumble backwards. We need to banish the concept of being blind to “color,” it sounds like a disingenuous statement, honesty would go a long way to help the process.

Where do you go for a great time?

I go to as many arts experiences as my schedule will allow.

What would you change about Dayton?

I would change our communal fascination with our past. We can appreciate but not wallow in the great accomplishments of the past. Celebrate what we have now and blaze ahead towards the future.

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