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Rising Stars: Meet David Underwood III

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Underwood III.

Hi David, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I have been performing for as long as I can remember. I watched and admired my three older siblings excel in their own niched arts – dancing and cheerleading; drawing and designing; writing poetry and rapping. To be honest, I was envious of their talent and hungry to find my own. I started by learning the clarinet in elementary school, it was a mandatory class but I quickly fell in love with music. From the clarinet, I went on to teach myself piano, guitar, and ukulele all while performing in the school band playing the clarinet, bass clarinet, timpani, snare, bass drum, and xylophone/ chimes. Although I had a deep love for music my parents (and neighbors) knew that I would never tire by sitting down and practicing so they made me as active as possible. I was enrolled in football, basketball, soccer, and track; and whenever I had free time took hikes around my Arizonan hometown. My hyperactivity finally merged with my love for art when I auditioned for the colorguard section of my high school’s marching band. My coach used to say we are the visual representation of music; which really resonated with me. My high school’s colorguard lead me to an independent world-class colorguard that traveled the country competing in various NFL stadiums. By performing in the 48 states, I was able to get a good sense of the best place for art; so naturally, when my second tour was finished, I auditioned and enrolled in AMDA College of the Performing Arts as a dance major. I knew that LA was the absolute best place for an artist to thrive but I could never have imagined the opportunities and experiences it would create for me! Since graduation, I have continued dancing, looking for the most strenuous form of art I can find. I started to dabble in the circus arts (Aerial, Lyra Hoop, & Pole dancing).

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Growing up, my family was not always blessed in the financial sense, and being a dancer is not cheap. I was able to make do with what I had, and because I didn’t have the opportunity to try anything and everything, I meticulously trained with the things I had access to which made me better. I also was forced to take a break from dancing during college because of a knee injury that required immediate surgery. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t able to do what I loved – which was beyond agonizing. And even after the surgery was complete, I had to go through the process of healing and rebuilding muscle. I often spent nights alone in a studio frustrated with myself because my body was not cooperating with my mind. It wasn’t until I actually voiced these concerns with my teachers and my friends that I started to see that the injury had not hindered me but made me a smarter performer that knows my limits and how to prevent, handle, and recover from any injury.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am a performer of all types! I generally look for the hardest or most strenuous type of movement and try to make it look as graceful as possible. I am really known for my flexibility and willingness to just go for it, which often leaves me aggressively sore later. But I am really thankful for a healthy and strong body that allows me to do what everyone else thinks is impossible. If there is a concept you’ve dreamt of that you’d like to see, I will not stop trying until I find a way to make it a reality.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
My favorite book is Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; I think it is an encaptivating story that every person of color should read. That as well as, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Written so poetically and about a time and culture that often isn’t seen. Those books together inspire me to be an independent free-thinking artist and find my own way to be graceful.

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Image Credits
Michael Higgins Photography Phoenix Senior Photography & Josh Rose Photography

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