Filmmakers:  Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Location: Dayton, OH

Sparkle dancing at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company

Sheri “Sparkle” Williams is a 49-year old African-American female dancer in Ohio. She has been dancing for 38 years—making her one of the oldest female pro dancers in the country. Williams began dancing when she was 11 years old for Jeraldyne Blunden’s Dayton Contemporary Dance Company—one of the first dance companies to support African American dancers. Williams grew over the decades from a child to a woman in front of her audiences, and during this time, the dance company grew from a small town group to a national, competitive dance troupe.

Williams never had a traditional dancer’s body and worked hard to overcome her physical limitations in order to compete and perform the incredible acts and feats—challenging moves for women half her age.

Williams has had to deal with many tragedies in her personal life and continues to use dance to help her through her personal issues. Her goal has moved from being a good dancer to tapping into her audiences’ pain—taking them on an emotional journey of dance—where they can heal through her performances.

Early on, Williams used intense condition to stay healthy and dancing but recently suffered an Achilles ankle injury. She is now trying to recover and come back 100% to form in her unprecedented 39th season. But the community and outside dancers wonder—at her age and in her condition—can she really still compete?