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Meet Jakevis Thomason

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jakevis Thomason.

Jakevis, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’m originally from Greenville, South Carolina and started my dance training at Dianne’s School of Dance when I was 3 years old. I eventually joined their competitive dance team called Starz Artistic Performing Company and competed with them until I graduated high school in 2016. The company was like a second family and the directors took me in as if I was their own child. It was financially hard at times for my mom, who is a single parent, to afford all the fees that come with competitive dance and convention classes, so I worked inside and outside the studio in order to pay off some of the fees. I was committed to doing everything possible to keep me dancing and competing with my team. Closer to finishing high school I didn’t really have a plan of what I wanted to do after graduation but I knew I wanted to dance, move to California or New York, and only go to college if dance was going to be my major. I applied to some local colleges for academics but only as a back up if I didn’t get into my number one university at the time, which was Pace in New York for their commercial dance program.

Near the end of the college application season one of my older former teammates named Nathan Makolandra, who graduated from Juilliard and was a part of LA Dance Project told me about a new dance program developing at the University of Southern California. I researched the program and thought that I could give it a try but I was probably not going to get in because I had no training in modern dance forms, and I didn’t know much about the concert or company side of dance. However, I ended up getting accepted academically into Pace but waitlisted for their commercial dance program and fully accepted into the USC Glory Kaufman School of Dance. I moved from the east coast to LA and learned from the Kaufman faculty and other students the complexities that the art form of dance offered and expanded my own knowledge about artistic movement. I realized how much I enjoy exploring my teaching skills and choreographic voice in combination with the hybrid movement and vocabulary that Kaufman introduced to me and can now see myself bringing this movement knowledge to the commercial, concert, broadway, and studio scenes of dance, rather that’s through my teaching, performance, or choreography.

We’d love to hear more about your artwork. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I perform and choreograph works on myself and other dancers just to explore movement ideas that I have and I also teach and choreograph for a variety of events such as; short group dances, solos, and workshops for competitive dance studios, halftime shows at USC football games, and 6-15 minute long works that have debuted in places like Cabo San Jose, Mexico, Santa Barbara, CA, and Traverse City, Michigan. I aim for none of my work to look the same and to always bring the movement knowledge I have learned at Kaufman into my choreography. I want to always be adaptable to the skill set of anyone I am setting choreography on and use their skills to enhance my own choreography.

I choreograph because I enjoy the process of setting movement that I compose through exploring what feels good to me. All my choreography consists of movement that feels good for me to embody, with the addition of choreographic technologies and ideas that I am creatively intrigued by. Choreographing is how I truly show people my creativity. It shows how I hear music, how I want to tell a story, what I consider visually pleasing, what dynamics of movement I enjoy playing with, and other parts of my creativity. I feel like choreographing is a huge part of developing my artistic “voice” and shows what sets me apart from other dancers.

Events that I have experienced through life and music that drives my creativity are my biggest inspirations when choreographing. Recreating a moment in my life through nothing but movement and sharing it with others to either embody or watch is an act of vulnerability that is interesting to me and pushes me to keep creating. Sometimes I hear music first that triggers choreographic ideas in mind to start flowing and use either the music or lyrics to be the foundation of my choreography for a work.

I don’t have expectations of what people will take away from my work but I do hope that they’re affected in a way that pushes them to be interested in my choreographic voice and want to embody or see more of it.

How can artists connect with other artists?
I feel like it’s much easier to find other artists to collaborate with once you know what you’re looking for or what interests you. Once that’s figured out, I think it’s as easy as just asking other artists to collaborate sometime or even making a post on social media stating that you’re looking for other artists to create work with.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
There are multiple performances and events at The Glory Kaufman School of Dance this year that I will be dancing in and possibly showcasing my own choreography. Performance and event dates can be found online at https://kaufman.usc.edu/news/.

People can see my work on my Instagram and Facebook where I post clips of some of my pieces and movement ideas I play around within the studio. I also have a YouTube channel that I’m going to start uploading more videos of my work on.

If anyone wants to support my work they can verbally or electronically share any of the work that I post on my social media, so that it will hopefully be shared with the right person that can help me pursue my future career as a performer and choreographer.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jeremiah Drummond, USC Gloyra Kaufman School of Dance

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2 Comments

  1. Oneshia Edens

    November 14, 2019 at 18:55

    So proud of you

  2. Maribeth Fulbright

    November 15, 2019 at 13:17

    I remember watching you dance when you were so little at Diannes. Best wishes to you ! Congratulations! On all your achievements.

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