Expressions out of a Bleak Place

“Out of this forgotten, bleak place, an incredible tradition was born,” Marvette Perez said.

I’ve always felt a draw to Hip-Hop dance.  It was obvious to me as a youth that there were roots in this form of expression.  I can remember connecting the dots of tap dancing when I learned that the historical roots were to African Slaves who’s drums were taken away.  Hip-Hop is an expression of freedom.  It is not good or bad – it is free.

When you notice loud expressions and strong movements allow yourself to contemplate: Are there movements that you need to do?  When you choose to express yourself in a dark and bleak place there will be energy connecting you to your root system.  Does the energy inspire you or does the energy hold you back.  Which do you need?  To be held back and practice stability or break free and try something new.

“Hip-hop is the most important contribution to the American cultural landscape since blues and jazz,” said hip-hop artist and promoter, filmmaker and producer Fab 5 Freddy, born Fred Brathwaite. “It is dominant in every youth culture in every country.” According to statistics gathered in 2009 by Russell Simmons and Accel Partners, today’s global hip-hop community comprises 24 million people between the ages of 19 and 34, including a range of nationalities, ethnic groups and religions.

If you desire to experience the freedom of dancing – it might be time to take a class or enjoy a lesson online.  Your roots may not go as deep as a Native American’s moving in prayer for rain or an African American’s hunt for an animal.  Perhaps your obstinate Irish will emerge and you will find yourself dancing in protest. Let it emerge.  These dances of personal expression bring healing.  Enjoy some hip-hop culture today.

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Carollee Walker wrote for the American Embassy: IIPDigital


Congratulations Comdoc Flashmob!

This weekend the Comdoc Flashmob performed their dance at the annual company holiday party.  The cast met once a week for 7 weeks and once a day for 1 week.  Andrea Capuano and Donna Neff organized song selections.  Capuano and her husband actually wrote and recorded lyrics to match the inside jokes of the office’s jovial spirit.  I’m so proud of the way they executed the choreography!

Recapping the Summer

This Summer offered a variety of stamina building and endurance training.  While the heat was a bummer to most Ohioans…the dancers can stretch farther and train better in the heat.  This was something I looked forward to each day.


In the beginning of the summer I met up with Lighthouse Ministries in S.E. Canton to launch their staff with MOVING TO MATH curricula and training.  This went well.  Best part – I have a full draft completed for my Math workbook.  Now, to get good photos this year! 

I hope to begin training teachers at the end of this school year.  That would be May 2013.  The fitness element is the most exiting part to me.  The results from last year’s students math proficiency and fitness assessments were good.  You can look forward to a full post on that soon.


  This choreography experience is one that I’ve come to love.  It’s all out live musical theatre.  The kids learn to work hard from 9am-4pm.  We enjoy their company from 8-5pm.  Then, in a short 2 weeks time they learn an entire musical review.

This year it was themed: RADIO.  The time – tune – travelers pop in and out of radio decades to bring audience members along.  Everything from Jenny’s 867-5309 to War of the Worlds.  All kids. Voguing and Kung Fu Fighting.


Immediately following KID camp – I drove down through the beautiful landscape of Atwood Lake Region in Ohio to Camp Neosa.  It is so very beautiful.  There, I met 12 art conservation dance students.  The instructor Jackie Hemming has been faithfully teaching them and boy, could they groove.  They have strong ideas about dance – which I LOVE.  The technique class was a challenge, as always, for expressive dancers.  But, I saw my favorite action.  I love that moment when the dancer discovers that the study of technique is created for them to reach their vision.  I look forward to an exciting future for these students.


This year instead of PRINCESS CAMP…I chose to launch the summer dance camp.  It’s not that I got tired of pink…but I believed it was time.  The students ranged from age 3-15.  Classes in technique were given and also Hip-Hop.  Students learned about DIRECTIONAL DANCES.  There is actually a movement scale designed by Rudolf Laban.  Similarly to DO, RAE, ME, FA, SO, LA, TE, DO…Up, Down, Side,Side, Front, Back, and Diagonal.

What’s NEXT??

It is that time again!  Time to gear up for the school year to begin.  My plans are to continue at Akron Public Schools with the after-school Hip-Hop Dance Classes.  I expect great things from myself this Fall as a teaching artist.  It is time to book your classroom!!!

Thanks for reading!  Have a great time with Back To School!

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Summer Dance Camp

This will be the first year that I’ll be teaching a Summer Dance Camp  Please pass the word!

Directional Dances:

In dance, like music, there are movement scales for learning and perfecting technique.  In music we are familiar with Do, Rae, Me, Fa, So, La, Te, Do.  In dance the movement scale is up, down, right side, left side, front, back , right diagonal, left diagonal.  Just as with music, in dance, the possibilities for creating new combinations of performance are endless.  The Directional Dances theme for Summer Dance Camp at First Friends will give students of every age an opportunity to cultivate and solidify their inner impulses for dance.  This will take place through a modern/contemporary style of dance. 

First Friends

Currently registering for Summer Dance Camp

August 6-10, 2012

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced Classes in Modern/Contemporary Dance

Elementary Hip-Hop & Teen Hip-Hop with Mrs. Payne

330.966.2800 for more information

I love being a teaching dance-artist!

This week is the last week of Akron Public School’s After-school Enrichment Program.  We’ve been together 16 weeks and I am going to miss these kids!  Enjoy the slide show!


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I somehow sensed when I was a teenager that I wanted to do my own work. I was quite clear that I didn’t want to be an interpretative kind of artist. I had an intuition about wanting to create my own form, in one way or another, whatever that would be.
Meredith Monk

APS Hip-Hop Classes are AMAZING! I love these kids!

The Akron Public School after-school program is so fun.  The students are rising to the challenges!

I Came To Win, To Fight, To Conquer, To Thrive
I Came To Win, To Survive, To Prosper, To Rise
To Fly