Student Stories: Beginning Jazz with Vincent Williams

By Jessica E. Cooke

As a child I tended to “dance to the beat of my own drum,” according to my mom. While most of the other girls played softball or soccer I was dancing two or three nights a week. It began at age five. My first class was ballet, and since then I have tried everything from pointe to popping.

After moving to the Northeast area of DC in December 2011 I began looking for an affordable option for dance classes nearby and was introduced to Joy of Motion Dance Center. JOMDC has great programs that are affordable, and a studio space that feels like a second home. The sense of community and encouragement at the JOMDC studios made me feel instantly welcomed.

One of the first classes I took at JOMDC Atlas was beginning jazz with Vincent Williams. Class with Vincent is always guaranteed to leave you feeling jubilant and in great shape. For someone who was a few years out of practice, the class was exactly what my body and brain needed. One of the things I relish about Vincent’s class is the extensive warm-up. Whether you are new to dance or trying to polish your skills, his warm-ups leave you feeling strong, stretched, and ready for the fast-paced across the floor combinations. Over a period of time you feel a significant improvement in your dance abilities and a better awareness of your body. It is amazing how much stronger and flexible my muscles felt in just a few short weeks. And now, several months later, I feel not only healthier than ever, but also elated to have rediscovered my love of dance.

Vincent Williams demonstrated a jazz class at this year’s H Street Festival.

Once you finish Vincent’s long warm up he moves on to combinations across the floor. He then teaches several counts of choreography back in the center. Keeping your heart rate going, you are then sporadically sent across the floor. I find this is great in helping to remember combinations as it constantly keeps your body and mind alert.

The choreography Vincent teaches in his classes varies. Sometimes he will have you making jazz hands to the sky and kicking your legs like a Rockette. Other classes he will utilize blues and give slower movements that bring our bodies low to the ground. I have often heard Vincent state, “jazz is in the plié,” and nowhere is this more true than in his class.

Vincent likes to push his students, consistently challenging them to improve their skills. No matter your age or level, he is always seeking to better you as a dancer. One of my favorite speeches from Vincent that I have heard numerous times (a handful directed at me) is him reminding someone to point their feet by saying, “You’d better point that foot or I’m going to bite it off!” It is always said with a big grin, of course. I’m pretty sure I must burn twice the calories in that class from laughing.

Throughout class Vincent keeps you grinning and sweating! His class is always fun and exhilarating, but it is also evident that you are learning from a teacher who is incredibly passionate about his art. Whether he is teaching younger children or adults, Vincent gives his students his full attention. If you have an interest in dance I would certainly recommend taking a class with Vincent for the chance to experience his wonderful passion and enthusiasm! Click here to view a schedule of Vincent’s adult drop-in classes.