Today we’d like to introduce you to Darrius Stephens.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started dancing when I was about 15 or 16 years old. I was so in love with the idea of being able to do all of these weird and uncommon things with my body that I’ve never done before. Me watching Americas best dance crew, so you think you can dance and any other dance related shows and movies inspired me to become who I am as a dancer and artist today. My girl best friend at the time was into dance already and I had no idea what it was, she convinced me to try things that we seen on these shows and mimic what they were doing.
Eventually, we started getting better at it and choreographing our own routines and entering our high school talent shows and winning. As the years progressed, I started going out to the clubs and noticing these phenomenal dancers that did underground dancing and dressed in weird women clothing. Eventually, I started watching them and mimicing them and figuring out that they were imitating girl dance teams from hbcus like Jackson state prancing jsette and Alabama stingettes. Once I figured that out I started watching more of those videos and getting an understanding of there movement and what they were doing. I then decided that’s what I wanted to do and started dancing in the clubs along other friends and coming up with the choreography or counts as we call them in the community. This community ended up being called “jsetteing”.
Eventually, we got noticed by this team and they took us under there wing to dance and train like them and become as good as them. Although that team was a good team, I figured I was starting to outgrow that team and felt like I wasn’t getting enough training and better myself as a dancer. So I then quit that team to dance as a freelance dancer and ended up with a team of my own called A-1. This team I just knew it was going to be THE ONE. Unfortunately, that shipped sailed fast and I got noticed by another team called 7up now known as Dance Champz of Atlanta. The captain Leland Thorpe seen the potential in me and wanted me on his team no matter what. So I came for tryouts one day and of course had my work cut out for myself.
However, he seen so much potential in me that all my mess ups and mistakes didn’t matter as long as I was dedicated determined and assertive about what I wanted to do as a dancer none of that mattered to him. He then started training me in jazz, contemporary, modern, hip hop, ballet, and jsette over the course of me being there. Months passed being on this team and it was time for my first performance out of town and in general on this specific team. We were in his home town Detroit and were there for a battle. Ultimately we did amazing and won the battle and were definitely the talk in town in this underground movement. We were known for our costumes, our body, our flexibility, and theatrics with the quality of our movement in dance.
As time progressed, I then started progressing as a dancer and on this team and in life in general. I then knew that this was the team I wanted to be on for sure. We have done numerous of competitions and paid gigs. Some competitions we have won and lost due to our unique style of dance and how we incorporate all styles of dance in this very specific and southern traditional style of dance that were sometimes a hit or miss for the people that just didn’t want to understand that it could be evolved and elevated. Me being on this team made me the dancer I am today and able to go to places and just be the upmost professional and confident person I can be in dance, such as STEP UP the YouTube series, birthday parties, a show called the icon experience and many more. I’ve officially been on DANCE CHAMPZ OF ATLANTA for 4+ years and I went from a crab is what we call it which is basically like the bottom of the barrel and beginner in dance to the team, to a co-captain, leader, teacher, co-choreographer and advanced dancer. I have put my blood sweat and tears into this company and know that this is what I should be doing for myself and others.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road at all. Me starting off as a dancer I just wasn’t as flexible and as athletic and understanding of movements and just dance in general. It would be countless times when I couldnt catch on to choreography, tricks, stunts and body language. Another struggle for me was costumes and uniforms. At first, I didn’t like to wear the clothes and uniforms we were deciding to dance in because I wasn’t as comfortable with myself as I am today. Our late rehearsals and countless hours of training and stretching has always been a struggle for me and still are but has definitely become easier as the length in time of being on the team.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
This company is known for dancing and living in our truth through dance. We specialize in all styles of dance as well as flexibility, athleticism, costumes, theatrics, personality, tricks and great work ethics in dance and out of dance. I would say this company is most proud of progression, proof, performances and winning in all walks of life and sharing our knowledge and power with others. What sets us apart from others is we know who we are we know our worth and the proof is always in the pudding with our dance style and work ethics throughout our dance careers. We are the trendsetters and always will be because we always think outside of the box.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Our city is a great place for this business and company that I have 100%. Atlanta is definitely becoming the “Hollywood” for dance and is none stop evolving which makes it even easier for the company and team because there’s always performances and gigs to be booked. If someone was starting out or even already in the business, I think I would recommend anyone to come to my company because it can always teach them something as well as myself as a dancer no matter how good or great they already are. Training is always necessary and that’s all we do outside of performing.
- $5 for first class (adults and kids) majorette
- $10 for every class after that (adults and kids) majorette
- Address: 4855 Old National Highway Atlanta GA 30337
- Phone: 3135959338
- Instagram: Dance_Champz_Atl
- Facebook: Dance Champz Atl
Leland Thorpe, Darrius Stephens