Dancer Hope Boykin looks at the camera wearing a off-the-shoulder black sweater.
The Spark

The Spark with Tift Merritt: Hope Boykin

Virtual Event
March 18, 2021
7:30 PM EST

Registration for this event closes at 12 PM EST on March 18, 2021. The video will be available on-demand for all ticketholders for 72 hours starting at the time of the event.

Suggested ticket donation (per household) is $15. Tickets available starting at $0. 

Join us for the sixth episode of The Spark with Tift Merritt, featuring longtime Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Hope Boykin. In this series, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and UNC alumna Tift Merritt returns to Carolina Performing Arts to take us behind the scenes in artist-to-artist video interviews that delve deep into the creative process.

How do you light a spark? How do you make something true? How does art happen? What is mumbled on the way in the studio and how can we hear it? 

Welcome to The Spark.

Tift Merritt

On March 18, Tift will sit down with Hope Boykin—dancer, educator, creator, and native daughter of Durham, NC. Hope is no stranger to Carolina Performing Arts; she retired in 2020 from a 20-year career with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), which has brought her home to NC to perform on the CPA season numerous times.

A Bessie Award winner and three-time recipient of the American Dance Festival’s Young Tuition Scholarship, she has choreographed works for Ailey, New York City Ballet Principal dancer Lauren Lovette, DEMO, BalletX, and Guggenheim Works And Process Virtual Commissions program, to name a few. The pieces she has choreographed for AAADT include r-Evolution, Dream. (2016), inspired by the speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with original music by Ali Jackson, and Go in Grace (2008, for the company’s 50th anniversary season) with music by the award-winning singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Her personal mission is to help young and aspiring artists build a secure foundation and develop confidence in their craft.

Runtime: approximately 60 minutes. Recording of CPA virtual events is not permitted. If you have questions or concerns related to accessibility, please contact us. You can also check out our livestream events guide.

Special Thanks


Maribel Carrion
Alumni Committee on Racial & Ethnic Diversity (ACRED)

The Spark with Tift Merritt logo

About The Spark

Based on the series Merritt produced for the acclaimed Marfa, Texas Public Radio, The Spark peels back the polished performance to reveal the elbow grease, risk, fire, and courage behind the art—and artists—we think we know. Each month, Tift will welcome a new artist for a virtual conversation that gets to the heart of their work. 

Dancer Hope Boykin looks at the camera wearing a off-the-shoulder black sweater.

About Hope Boykin

Born and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Hope Boykin is an acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and creator. A Howard University graduate, Boykin also studied at the New World Dance Company and The Ailey School where she worked as assistant to choreographers Milton Myers and the late Talley Beatty. Hope was an original member of Complexions, and joined PHILADANCO, where she received the acclaimed “Bessie,” a New York dance and performance award.

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Since completing her 20th and final season with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, she continues to build and create work as a 2019-20 Urban Bush Women Choreographic Center Fellow. She has choreographed for numerous dance companies including Philadanco, Minnesota Dance Theater, and Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

Boykin is an Artistic Lead for the Kennedy Center Dance Lab (KCDL), a two-week summer dance program for high school students, and an Artist-In-Residence at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

Artist Tift Merritt looks to the side with a slight smile.

About Tift Merritt

Called “a diamond in a coal mine” by Emmylou Harris, Tift Merritt has been compared to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor in a proud tradition that reaches back to Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry. A Raleigh native, Merritt played local haunts like Cats Cradle and The Cave before her debut album Bramble Rose soared to the Times and New Yorker top ten lists.

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Since then, Merritt has toured world-wide, opening for Joan Baez and appearing on Austin City Limits, the Grand Ole Opry, and NPR. She returned home to make her Carolina Performing Arts debut in the 17/18 season with a sold-out performance. She began hosting The Spark in over a decade ago for Marfa Texas Public Radio, where it garnered instant acclaim from artists and audiences alike.

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