VIP – Judith Jamison

4 Jun 2010 – 6:12 PM Comments

Dancer VIP: Judith Jamison – Alvin Ailey former Artistic Director

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The King’s Choreography

Submitted by on 6 Feb 2008 – 12:00 PM Comments

Jamie King. The name has a ring to it. Chums with uber-famous celebs like Madonna, Shakira, Prince, Mariah, Christina, Ricky and Britney, King is certainly the King of choreography for the pop stars. Between launching a new dance fitness DVD and book, designing and directing performances for A-list artists, and being nominated for countless VMA and Emmy awards, he took time before boarding an airplane to Vegas to talk to me, one of his former Nike Rock star Workout instructors. The super friendly and down-to-earth King shed some light on dreams, passions and what it means to succeed. Interview by Jeanette Prather

Did you find it difficult to enter the professional dance world with little technical training?

No. I didn’t really think about it. I just followed my dreams, followed my goals. I preach about staying headstrong and following your heart, and that’s what I did. I never let those thoughts about training occur to me. I learned as much as I could in my small town and tried to be the best I could be.

How would you describe your choreography?

That’s a tough one. It’s always different. It’s specific to each individual project. Nike and Rock Your Body, for instance, merge dance and workout together. It’s an athletic fusion between the two.

What made you want to merge dance and fitness?

Nike approached me. This huge corporation finally saw dancers as athletes. For the first time I could express to someone that dancers deserve the same credibility as athletes. We’re warriors. I had this idea and no one’s stopping me. I felt it in my body.

Do you have any input on who is selected to teach your Nike Rockstar Workout?

Yes. I get videos and headshots of who our instructors will be. I want to make sure that everyone keeps the same balance for the class.

Did you know that I was one of your instructors?

Yes I did! Did you have a good time teaching?

Absolutely! The members and myself had a blast. It was so action-packed. What inspired you to choose the dancehall ragga theme?

Oh that was the old one. The new Rockstar’s choreography involves African dance. I chose African because it’s been my passion. That dance is a full-body workout. The dancehall was influenced by a growing trend in island music. The new influence became very popular, and that’s how I decided what to use for Rockstar.

How did you begin your mentor-student relationship with Prince?

Prince chose me. He trained me specifically for his shows. He’s influenced me through performance and fusion with music. It all started with him. He took me under his wing and taught me to direct and choreograph for him.

As a child, what career did you want when you grew up?

I was really influenced by the movie Fame. I was also part of the MTV generation. Honestly, I really wanted to be a backup dancer for someone famous. I wanted to affect pop culture through movement. I wanted to express myself anyway that I could. It was really about reaching people, influencing society.

Do you (or did you) ever get star struck working alongside such big names?

No, neither. I do get excited concerning my work. But I only get nervous about what I’m presenting to the artists. I want to make fun, genuine and correct work for them that reflects where they are in their careers. I want to give my work to those who want to be directed.

What do you do on your spare time if you have any?

I hang out with friends, go out to eat, watch movies, spend time by the pool and with my dog. It’s rare, but it’s great.

You do this in L.A. right?


What is one piece of golden wisdom you’d give to an aspiring professional dancer or choreographer?

Follow your heart and dreams. Never let anyone or anything tell you otherwise. Learn as much as you can to help you develop into the best person you can be.

Jeanette Pratter