What is a DNA Workshop?

fierce collabo
Photo Credit: TAM photography


JOMDC has a long history of fostering hip hop dance talent in the DMV area. We’ve had hip hop technique classes for almost four decades and eagerly welcomed guest artists like Luam and Laura Edwards over the years. Our resident companies like Jam Crew (90s), DCypher Dance (00s), Urban Impact (00s), and the current H.Y.P.E. Program, have performed throughout the U.S. and Canada. Many of our dancers have gone on to perform with international tours, made television and film appearances, and began extensive teaching careers. Dance Project, our annual choreography showcase, is a platform for all dancers to present their work, and is curated based on the work alone. It was in the December 2013 Dance Project that Fierce Collabo (FC) took home the prize for Audience Favorite. JOMDC awarded FC a deeply discounted theatre rental, which they used to present their own showcase. Two years later, FC is thriving in the local hip hop scene on the heels of their breakout showcase at the Howard Theatre, DNA After Dark. Over 100 dancers took to the stage in front of a rambunctious crowd. JOMDC and Fierce Collabo have joined forces in order to build even more momentum behind hip hop training, performing, and professional development. Today, we bring you the DNA Workshop Series. Every month, we host a workshop led by a professional dancer who specializes in hip hop choreography or a related style like reggae-dancehall. All workshop instructors are living the dream as working professional dancers. They have fought hard in auditions and they come back to the classroom to share their wisdom. We sat down with Latoya McKay, the co-director of Fierce Collabo, to talk about the workshop series and why it’s so important for hip hop dancers to keep training.

  1. Latoya, what is the DNA Workshop series and why should every hip hop dancer in the DMV area go?

The DNA Workshop Series is an extension of our yearly choreographers showcase “DNA After Dark.” The DNA Workshop Series presents professional industry choreographers at the JOMDC Friendship Heights location. It is our hope that dancers will come not only to train, but to help bring our community together. SO if you’re asking yourself “Why Go”….instead ask “WHY NOT?” Every dancer–whether you are professional, pre-professional, or just want to work on yourself–can benefit from the workshops in some way. It will challenge you, give you the opportunity to network, and keep you connected. We hope to expand our collective perspective on what is hip hop, both commercially and culturally. We don’t have to overspend or go around the world to get dynamic training – we can bring the training to DC.

  1. OK, it’s 2015 and the internet is amazing. We can find videos of anything we want to learn and (with patience) can teach ourselves the 6 Step or all the choreography from the Single Ladies video. Why should we pay money to go to a workshop?

What are we gaining by learning in isolation on youtube, tv, or IG? Know the value of your buck. A free online video can only take you so far. The DNA Workshop Series will offer you a chance to have a professional critique. The truth will set you free and give you guidance.  This is where you establish a solid foundation as a dancer – alongside mentors, coaches, and other dancers. Training and progressive development is an essential ingredient for a dancer. Your TV will never be able to critique you. It’s also so much more FUN to learn in a group–performing a routine you’ve just learned collectively with your peers is the best feeling.

  1. How do you know/find all the dancers you’re bringing in?

DNA Workshop @JOMDCFierce Collabo has acquired connections through many years of networking, training, and developed friendships!

  1. Who should come to a DNA Workshop?

DNA Workshop Series is for everyone! Although the level is Advanced, the environment is laid back, and very welcoming. You will always feel at home with us.  Everyone comes for the same purpose… to GROW!

  1. If you could bring anyone to JOMDC for a workshop (we have a magic rolodex with lots of phone numbers) who would you call and why?

If I could bring anyone to JOMDC for a workshop, it would be Brian Friedman. His unique style is absolutely captivating. He is a true living legend in his field, and a force to be reckoned with.

  1. Dance as a career is still one of the most competitive jobs in the world. How do you see hip hop dance in the future as a genre and as a job?

Hip Hop as an innovative culture (music, art, dance) has evolved dramatically over the last few decades and will continue to change. With the advent of technicality, it’s now–more than ever–so important to train, and to preserve the integrity of hip hop dance. We have to film, study, and document our work so that the knowledge can be passed on through generations. We know we cannot live in a vacuum and that So You Think You Can Dance is not the only place for a dancer to have success. If we keep training, and keep connecting, we can all find success in this art form. Through the DNA Workshop Series, Fierce Collabo Company Class, and so many other opportunities to train as a hip hop dancer, we hope we will allow the genre to continue to expand.

Next workshop is 12/11!

Keenan Cooks comes to JOMDC Friendship Heights, 9pm – 11pm.

Read more and register here.