The story of my name

This is a growing storyboard, a collection of ideas, images, and insights for the story of my name, Binahkaye Joy.


Once upon a time when ballet was something I believed was important to do.

Once upon a time when ballet was something I believed was important to do.

Collage of Erika: dance recitals | I grew up dancing at the St. Timothy’s School of Dance on Saturday mornings in Southeast, Washington, DC. Every June we had our annual recital at Howard University’s Crampton Auditorium. This was my first recital, Alice in Wonderland. | added to the storyboard 3.4.2014

Thoughts on the process: Collage of Erika | The more I weave together an understanding of who I have created in Binahkaye Joy, the more I am drawn to these old images of Erika, especially in my childhood. I am unraveling all of what Erika meant to me to trace the parts of her that I retain, and the parts of her that I release. | added to the storyboard 3.4.2014

photo by Gregory Wade

photo by Geoffrey Wade

Girlchild in the promised land | This was the title of my solo for my senior dance minors recital in college. All while working on my thesis about Pearl Primus and choreographing for my final projects, I was secretly referring to myself as Binah. It would be a little over a year before I would ever say aloud to another person what I felt my new name to be. I painted the box, it’s supposed to be a girlchild sitting in a field somewhere dreaming of the future. I had absolutely no time to paint at the end of my senior year, but I did this anyway because it gave me a breather from the 80-page thesis that was also due. | added to the storyboard 3.3.2014

Binahkaye is a name I made up from scratch | I love that I built every part of my name. It’s layers have multiple meanings, and as the years grow, the meaning has continued to evolve. I love that when I chose the base name, Binah, I did not know all it’s meanings, and so I have been able to discover many parts of myself in having to learn all of what my name means in different languages. I only knew one meaning for Binah when I chose it, “dancer, Senegalese origins.” That’s what I always said, until one day someone informed me that Binah was from the Kabbalah and means wisdom/understanding in Hebrew. Over the years I have come across more meanings, and each one is like an invitation to explore that energy in my life. I feel such an abundance in my name. Every syllable, every letter, all the vowel sounds, everything– all intentional, all with great deliberation. I wasn’t at all thinking about how it would likely be mispronounced and misspelled because of how I arranged it. It was so after the fact when I even thought about that. And I’m glad I didn’t waste time trying to make it more palatable for other people. I made it just the way I need it to be. | added to the storyboard 3.3.2014

Daddy holding me and welcoming me to the world on the day I was born.

The day I was born | I wrote a piece about how I experienced my birth name during my childhood, My father named me first. | added to the storyboard 3.3.2014


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