Carole and I met when I was an 18-year-old freshman at Essex Community College. I grew up in a housing project in East Baltimore. I had recently graduated from Northern High School. I played football and lacrosse at Northern and went to Essex to major in Physical Education (PE). At Essex I was a walk-on for the cross country team, ran indoor and outdoor track and became an All American in track.
One of the first classes I had to take as a PE major was a class called Rhythmic Analysis taught by Carole. At that time, Rhythmic Analysis was a euphemism for a modern dance/improvisation class. It was my first dance class. Carole saw right away that I had an intrinsic ability to create movement spontaneously and saw the makings of a dancer. She encouraged me to pursue further training and to follow through with the possibilities of dancing and choreographing.
It was because of Carole that I became a professional dancer, a choreographer, a movement director, an artistic director, a professor of dance and composition, a dance filmmaker, a producer, a mentor to young dancers and finally the Executive Director of the Carole Cascio Fund at Carole’s request.
Carole and I had many conversations over the last five years of her life about how to bring dance into her community, to elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and to Chesapeake College. They were fun, lively conversations with all kinds of ideas being tossed about.
Little did I know then that she was preparing me for the job of directing her foundation. It is truly a full circle endeavor for me and, in the great tradition of modern dancers, of giving back to the community just as she did to hundreds of dancers over her career. I am carrying on that tradition.
That first dance class was the beginning of a beautiful lifelong friendship with Carole. That relationship continues as I carry on her legacy through dance and through the Foundation she envisioned.