Today we’d like to introduce you to Will Rhem.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m originally from Beaufort, South Carolina. Home of the Gullah Islands. Coming from such a rich culture, I have always had the arts in me. I grew up stepping, dancing, singing, and creating. I knew it was something I loved and wanted to do for the rest of my life. I focused more on music growing up because it was more acceptable for me as a young black male. I faced many adversities while trying to explore my artistic abilities that sort of hindered me from being my true self.
I felt like I needed to please others more than myself. I hid a lot of my artistic abilities because I didn’t want to be judged and teased as a young kid. It all worked out though because I was pretty solid in music. I played the trumpet and other instruments that paved the way for me to get out of my small island town, and into The Great Bethune-Cookman University, on a music scholarship. I marched for BCU Marching Wildcats, and it is there where I finally felt safe enough to explore my other artistic abilities.
I auditioned for a South FL Style Hip Hop Group, called What’s Next? and I made it, I was a part of the group all four years of college, finishing my Junior and Senior year, as Vice-President and President. Among this group, I got a chance to grow and learn dance, and find out that I wanted to do more with it. After I graduated, I went to Florida A&M University for Graduate Studies. I attended FAMU on a full academic scholarship. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do but the opportunity came and I took it. Only for a year later, me to decide to leave with a 4.0GPA and a few classes left to complete, to move to Atlanta, GA and begin my classical training at age 22. I started studying with the Atlanta Dance Connection under the direction of Allyne Gartrell and Leyvon Campbell. I was extremely fortunate enough to have been trained for free by these two men, who pushed me to train seven days/week for at least 5hrs a day. I truly was in a place of making my dreams come true. After two years of training with ADC, I received an opportunity to study with two amazing choreographers, Jennifer Archibald of NYC and Anthony Burrell of Philadelphia. It was during this period where I decided I was moving from the south to the north to continue training.
I ended up joining the Philadelphia Dance Company, PHILADANCO! and being signed with BLOC NYC Talent. I was granted opportunities to perform legendary ballets by world-renowned choreographers along with working in the commercial television industry, performing in music videos and commerical television. In the few years I have been in NYC, I have managed to work so many amazing jobs and perform for audiences all over the world. My most favorite so far would have to be my tour in Japan 2019. I performed Japans number 1 hit musical, Endless SHOCK! Such an amazing experience.
Along with my performing, I am also a natural teacher. I love education and learning and I love being able to give back to students who want to learn. I have taught dance at many studios and pubic schools on the east coast, along with internationally in countries like Spain and France.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it has not! I have been teased and picked on as a kid for wanting to be artistic. I felt like I had to hide a part of myself in order to be seen as normal and fit in. Even as an adult, when I first started training. I had been dancing with people who have been dancing their entire life, and here I was JUST starting. I had to face insecurities and judgments of myself. The feeling of not being on the same level, or not good enough was a mental challenge. Dance in itself is hard, being an artist is hard. It’s never an easy thing for too long. We are constantly on an emotional wave, using our art to ride them, Sometimes it’s smooth sailing, others it’s rough.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I mean, I’m a professional dancer, educator and choreographer. I am known for pushing my students beyond their perceived abilities. I’m know for being a hard worker and giving it all I’ve got on stage. I dance form the inside out. I’m spirit first. and always will be. Spirit sets me apart.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Literally, everyone who has been on my dance journey. From my teachers, my mom, my dance colleagues, there’s too many too name. Joan Myers Brown for SURE! She will always and forever have a special place in my heart. Allyne and Leyvon for literally pushing me and making me into the dancer I have become. Jennifer Archibald, and Anthony Burrell, for believing in me. Sonia Dawkins is another GEM! She is who taught me to be spirit first, dancing and being from the inside out. Truly transformed me. The list goes on and on!
- Website: www.willrhemjr.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @willrhemjr
Kate Morrison Photography