Fredrick Davis was born in Brooklyn, but after his parents split, he moved to Chattanooga with his mother at the age of four. The separation and the move served as a turning point for Fred’s mother, who, after returning to her hometown of Chattanooga, struggled with addiction and had difficulty maintaining a stable home for her young son. Fred’s earliest memories are of a childhood spent homeless on the streets, learning to provide for himself, struggling in school, and isolating himself from his peers to mask his tumultuous personal life. From an early age, he dreamed of returning to New York to reconnect with his father, and knew that only his own determination and hard work would get him there.
Growing up with a mother who was frequently absent, Fred spent much of his time at a Chattanooga recreation center. It was there, when Fred was 11 years old, that a recreation center leader suggested Fred audition for a new program - "Dance Alive" - that was being offered. On a whim, Fred auditioned. That audition changed his life.
For Fred, dance became not only a passion, but a safe space where he felt supported in his creativity and talent. “The moment I got in dance, life changed. It changed me so much. That person that came out when I started dancing, I kept it locked inside for so long. It felt like it was a new life. I could relax. I didn’t have to live in a car anymore or live in the street anymore,” he says. “There was this whole other home in the ballet world.”
Archival footage from Fred's earliest years in dance, and present-day footage of his performances with Dance Theatre of Harlem, help depict Fred’s evolution as an artist, as well as the focus and determination required to achieve his dreams on a professional level.
Fredrick Davis’ story is an inspiration, exemplifying both the powerful life-saving impact of the arts and a community’s drive to provide opportunity and support for its most vulnerable citizens.