Kiki Ely | StepUp:High Water | Step Sisters

📸: @jwrphotography

Dance Mogul: It’s been a while since we had a good dance movie or series. How do you feel about being apart of Step Up’s big roll out this month?

(Choreographers: Marv Marvelous, Jamaica Craft, Kiki Ely)

Kiki: Wow, you really don’t realize that until the projects are released. I’ve had my head down, just working hard. As far as Step Up: High Water Jamaica Craft was the head choreographer and Marc Marvelous and I assisted for the entire series. It was a great opportunity and experience. We had a chance to hire dancers in the Atlanta area and even give them acting roles. The project was really inclusive in terms of bringing the best of dance to the screen. We had amazing talent like Savion Glover and Galen Hooks bring what they do best to the set to help make the best project possible. I was able to make a cameo and dance in two episodes of the series as well. Make sure you check it out on January 31st exclusively on YouTube Red.

Dance Mogul: You mentioned giving opportunities to dancers in Atlanta. I know that’s your home base and you and your partners have been cultivating that professional dance scene for many years. They say that Atlanta is becoming the new Hollywood, the new land of opportunity, is this true?

Kiki: Most definitely, we saw it happening 15 years ago. We knew ever since Drumline and Stomp the Yard that things would pick up here once people got a taste of the energy and vibe. That’s why my partners and I stuck to our guns and just continued to grow ourselves and our scene organically. Now some of the most popular shows are shot here like OWN’s Greenleaf and BET’s The Quad and those shows hire tons of dancers, so there is a lot to look forward to in the future.

(Choreographer KiKi Ely and
Director Benny Boom on the set of “BET’s the Quad”)

Dance Mogul: You also had a chance to work on Step Sisters, tell us about that experience?

Kiki: Another great experience that involved exceptional talent. Aakomon was the head choreographer and he brought in Binkie and myself to assist because stepping is my thing, that’s my world. It’s a great movie, I’m glad Netflix picked it up. It has a little bit of everything in it from comedy to real stepping. The auditions were amazing, so many step teams came out from the Greeks to the dancers actually just forming their own step teams and auditioning. It was so many to choose from, again Atlanta really showed up and out. I have my own step that was able to be apart of the movie as well.

Dance Mogul: Do you think things are starting to come full circle for dance being in the forefront of people’s minds?

Kiki: There is no escaping it, dance is everywhere. If you look on social media there is always a challenge or a major music artist sharing dancers dancing to their music. You have WOD coming back on TV and with entities like Netflix and Youtube picking up dance movies and series, dance is becoming more of a household thing for everyone.

Dance Mogul: You and Sakinah are always on the move and you guys still manage to be hands-on with your convention AtLA TakeOva. With dancers needing so much guidance nowadays conventions like yours are starting to stick out more and more. What can we expect this year?

Kiki: More Knowledge, exposing young dancers to knowledge is the key. It is our job to show them what really goes on and to do that you have to take a hands-on approach. That process can be intense sometimes because we don’t sugarcoat anything. We really give them the ins and outs of the business and let them know the business doesn’t except any excuses. It’s rewarding to see dancers book jobs and thank us for helping them and the dancers letting us know they are learning so much from our convention. It shows that this is what we were meant to do, along with having our own careers, we are here to help people grow as well. In addition to our convention, we are also celebrating the 1 year anniversary of our studio AtLA Entertainment Studios. We have some great young people that we are training to be working professionals.


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