Dwana Smallwood performs Judith Jamison's 'Cry.'

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As a performer in Alvin Ailey's elite dance company in New York, Dwana Smallwood is recognized as one of the best modern dancers since Mikhail Baryshnikov and Judith Jamison.

Dwana says she's wanted to be a dancer since she was 5 years old. "I'm more of the self I'm supposed to be than the self that I pretend to be walking around," she says. "When I'm dancing, it's the only part of myself I recognize."

Here she performs "Cry," a legendary dance—created by Judith Jamison—that represents a woman's journey from slavery to triumph.