Skip to main content

Dance Moms

Posted April 29, 2017

As we gear up for Mother’s Day, we decided to check in with a few of our instructors to hear about their motherhood experiences. Learn how their mothers influenced them and bring your mother or child to take our Mother’s Day Kukuwa class with us on Sunday, May 14th at 10am.


Winston Dynamit Brown began dancing as a child in Kansas City, MO, the same city Mr. Ailey called home. Winston saw dance as a doorway to a brighter future and credits his mother for showing him that door. 

“My mother is both the catalyst for why and how I was exposed to dance. But she also served as my biggest and unwavering support system,” he shared.


Winston’s mother enrolled him in classes at the same dance company she trained at as a child, Smiths Sisters Dance Studio. He also participated in AileyCamp, Ailey’s free summer program for underserved youth. As he continued his dance training, Winston was awarded scholarships to train at professionally summer intensives such as Jacob’s Pillow, and earned a BFA from the University of Missouri Kansas City. He has danced for Deeply Rooted Productions, The Metropolitan Opera, Pilobolus, and Kyle Abraham/A.I.M., to name a few. Recently, he became an instructor at AileyExtension.

Though Winston’s mother still lives in Missouri and hasn’t had the opportunity to take his Extension classes, she has attended his open class at Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey. However, this mother and son team have been dancing together for years. 

“Being from KC where line dancing and two-stepping (both social dances) in my city, both were huge parts of my family gatherings. My favorite social dancer and partner besides my wife is my mom,” Winston exclaimed. 

 “She understands musicality and is the most sensitive and aware partner that. It makes reading and sending signals to her effortless. [My mom is] easily one of my favorite dance partners and I've danced with some amazing humans.”

Winston maintains that he would not be where he is today, an established dancer with national credits, had it not been for his mother. 


“She has been my champion always. She encouraged effort and never shyed away from failure, saying that's where the growth and exposure to self occurs. ‘Always go for that NEW YOU,’ is what she would say.”



Dance was not a natural career choice for Deborah Wingert. Her parents were both academic teachers but as an avid reader as a child, Deborah discovered that dance allowed her to bring stories to life. Her mother took her to a performance of the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet in Carlyse, Pennsylvania and Deborah was hooked. After the performance, her mother enrolled her in classes and began taking them herself.

“My mom loved taking classes,” Deborah shared openly and continued. “She was always so proud of me.”


With the permission of her mother, Deborah excelled quickly and came to New York City as the age of 14 to train professionally at The School of American Ballet on scholarship and was invited to join the New York City Ballet just two years later, where she danced well into her career. 

“My mother gave me the opportunity to come to New York at a young age. Because of that, I am who I am now. I teach all over the world, stage ballets for the Balanchine Trust, as well as being an instructor at Ailey Extension and Manhattan Youth Ballet.” 

As Deborah remembered the invaluable experiences her mother provided her with, she boasted of her daughter’s success. Following her mother’s footsteps, Deborah enrolled her daughter, Ava Arkin, in ballet classes as a child. However, Ava found her joy in musical theater.

“My daughter is going to the Boston Conservatory Musical Theater program this summer. She’s the only girl from the Professional Performing Arts School program to ever get into the program. What a great experience!”

As Deborah’s daughter prepares for university, she is bridging the family artistic and academic gap with her degree choices. Ava plans to live both the dreams of her grandmother and mother together.


Previously, Deborah and her daughter danced together at a Mother’s Day luncheon. They often spend time together by attending dance and Broadway performances. Ava has even taken her mom’s Extension classes and brought her friends along. 

“I’m so grateful to be a mother -  that I have a daughter who I have such a fantastic connection with,” Deborah said.

Get the Latest News & Promotions from Alvin Ailey