session #4 with Shakia Johnson
Sometimes you meet a person you immediately connect with, and then you meet Shakia Johnson. Kia is an infectious energizer bunny and together I'm pretty sure we entertain and exhaust people at the same time. The first time I saw Kia we passed one another by at Bates College. I was there teaching jazz dance classes at the Bates Dance Festival (BDF) Young Dancers Workshop and she was arriving to teach a master class in hip hop. I knew she was a dancer, us dancers know one when we see one. But we didn't speak. Later I went and observed her class and confirmed she was not only a dancer but a dope one at that. Months later we connected via Facebook after realizing we both would be on faculty at BDF this summer. I knew our schedules would not allow me to take her class while there but I hoped she would be down to session with me considering we had never "actually" met. At BDF we immediately hit it off, often having hour long conversations that consisted mostly of spontaneous gut busting, stop or I'm gonna pee on myself laughter, making up random songs or breaking into old Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation choreography. So when I asked if she'd be down to session I'm pretty sure she responded with something like"ayyyyyyyeeee!!!"
We met up in my favorite rehearsal space at Bates, Skeleton. We were both super tired, as it was the final week of the young dancers workshop. She was also battling a headache so I wasn't sure she'd even want to dance. Silly me. This particular session was all Kia. I think the last time I took a hip hop class was over ten years ago, but I wanted the challenge and was fully prepared to be humbled by how ridiculous I would look next to her. I also wanted to know what it feels like to move from the perspective of a hip hop dancer. I have always admired their attention to detail and musicality, their freedom of expression and how they preserve their history but break rules at the same time. Not to mention their overall swagger. Kia embodies all that. I do not, lol. My biggest challenge was the footwork when we started playing with some "house" moves and even though I'm fairly comfortable with dance improvisation, I found myself to be super self critical of my choices when encouraged to freestyle. But that's the beauty of these sessions. I get the opportunity to be a student. I get to struggle at something and try new things. Some I may succeed in and others I may not but in the end I come away with a great experience and a deeper knowledge of myself as a dancer. Check out session #4 with Kia and go out and try something new! #sessionswithcdj #whowantstoduet #cdjdance
Shakia Johnson is a graduate of Pioneer Valley’s Performing Arts Charter High School and Dean College. She has performed for numerous hip hop events and has opened for concerts by Fat Joe, Jadakiss, 112, Charlie Baltimore, Kima from “Total” and Omarion. In 2005 she choreographed a hip-hop number for the Celtics/NBA half-time show. She has toured the U.S. and abroad dancing with Face Da Phlave Entertainment and Illstyle and Peace Productions.