"Dance has saved me constantly throughout my life... It allows me to feel, it allows me to express and it allows me to truly just be me"
What do you do?
I am a professional dancer, actor and choreographer. As well as performing in shows across the UK and starring in music videos, I am also the proud owner of Aaliyah’s Movement which is a dance company created to enable people from all abilities, race and sex to truly enjoy who they are an celebrate the power they hold within themselves through dance. I teach open classes at Skytribe Dance Studios, create dance adaptations of well known films/plays, hire dancers for music videos/gigs, I do private 1-2-1 sessions and so much more.
How did you get to where you are?
I started training in dance pretty late, compared to most dancers, at the age of 16. However, the passion for becoming a dancer came at the age of 11 from watching Justin Timberlake's Rock Your Body music video on the TV. I thought “I want to dance like that” so copying YouTube videos of my favourite choreographers such as Kyle Hanagami, Brian Friedman, Travis Wall and so many more became my way of ‘learning’.
I would rearrange my mum's kitchen and create my own space and dance for hours and hours. By the time it came to going to college I knew I HAD to go to a college that offered dance or some form of performing arts. BMC was the only place I applied for as Leicester at the time didn’t have any courses for college students to study dance and I knew in my heart that was what I wanted. I trained at BMC for 2 years at college and stayed on and did the higher level Performing Arts diploma for a further 2 years.
During my time at BMC my love for acting grew and I knew I needed more, more knowledge within the arts, more stories from working artists and more training. I researched for hours, courses all over the world and I found Armstrong Acting Studios which was based in Toronto. So I had to go because who doesn’t want to go to the other side of the world, alone and at a new place with barely any money?? I truly believe if you want something, and you really want it so much that you act as if you have it, anything is possible. I hadn’t even booked my flight, my accommodation or my visa, but I told people I was going to Toronto that February. At this point it was July so I had 6 months to find this magical money tree. I honestly can’t explain how, but not only was my audition tape accepted onto the course, I ended up living in Toronto for 3 months before I had to head home (wrong visa - OUCH!).
I trained in Toronto EVERYDAY for those 3 months between dance classes and acting classes with Harmon Walsh. During my time there, I performed in shows and music videos. When I came home, the love I felt towards the performing arts world and how it welcomed me with open arms I knew I had to bring all of that back home. So that’s when Aaliyah's Movement began and it’s been the best journey ever since. From dance classes, to dance adaptations, to paid work, to merchandise and my own website! This is only just the beginning.
Why do you love what you do?
This question is the hardest but the easiest question of them all. How can you even explain why you love something so much without saying because I love it so much? Dance has saved me constantly throughout my life. No matter the mistakes I’ve made, the bad days or the good days. Dance is there for me. It allows me to feel, it allows me to express and it allows me to truly just be me. Dance doesn’t judge race, sex or abilities because it just wants you to be 100% you. I honestly have never thought about doing anything else. If you ask anyone that knows me or is around me, I dance all the time as it’s just inside me and the biggest part of me. So the point in it all is simple because I can, I want to, so I will.
Leicester is my home. Even though it’s a small city, I am starting to believe everyone in Leicester is an artist in some way. The performing arts community in Leicester has the most passionate, talented and like minded people. You could bump into somebody on your way to grab a coffee and the person you bump into could be a videographer, the person who just served your coffee is a director, whilst the person in the queue behind you is currently acting in a production that’s showing at the Haymarket. I love that! I love how many artists Leicester has and how many of them you become to know, work with and continue to be inspired by. Leicester continues to grow its performing arts world and I know a lot of people think London is the best place to be for the arts, but Leicester is where the hidden gems are.
Aaliyah’s Movement is ever growing and I forever encourage anyone who wants to dance because they just love it, to join us. Our arms are always open, wide. You‘ll never know if you never try!
I am hoping this year depending on restrictions to put on a dance adaptation of Charlie’s Angels. So I’ll definitely need some dancers / actors. Maybe this could be you?
I am also collaborating with Daggers Point Theatre Cinematic Company to create an adaptation of The Lighthouse. So fingers crossed I can produce those this year!
Ooo! This is so easy. EVERYTHING!
The arts are everywhere and limiting yourself to just a book, film etc is boo boring. Doing your food shop? Listen to what’s playing and dance. Going for a walk with a friend? Ask them what they watched last night. Having a bath? Sing that song that’s stuck in your head. Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to listen and look but listen with your body and look with your heart. Oh and definitely watch Schitts Creek. That show is hilarious.