Interview by Shayna Fink Article & Images Submitted by Jake Simon Nomination by Cheryl Simon
The Nomination: “Jake has a passion for hip hop and trains up to 16 hours per week during competition season while maintaining high honors in school. He also teachers a younger student who competes and just won first place at nationals. Jake is a remarkable young man who is always recognized for being so kind and respectful.”
How did you become interested in dancing? How old were you when you started? When I was 4 years old I would imitate Michael Jackson daily. My mom found a theater arts camp with dance which led to hip hop classes around 6 years old. At 10 years old, I found an awesome hip hop teacher at Elements Dance Factory, Ski Sevitski who also trained with I AM PRHESH. I still train with Ski and officially joined I AM PHRESH at 13 years old. We compete regionally in comps such as World of Dance. I also compete as a soloist I received multiple titles and accolades including the title "Funky Fresh Award". That name stuck and now I'm known by my friends as JakesFresh. That's also my Instagram :).
Is it difficult to balance dance and school along with other activities? Yes! I train up to 16 hours per week during comp season which is school season. That doesn't include training a younger student who competes, rapping and creating my own choreo. I've become very disciplined and do school work from the moment I get home, including in the car, until I get to dance. It’s worth the high honors in school and winning team competitions. Watching my first student win 1st place in his national comp made my year!
Have you ever had problems accomplishing your goals? Yes! There are many areas hip hop that you need to learn and it's tough to be good at all of them. I’m best at hip hop dance. When I do reach milestones, I realize all the hard work was worth it and I just want to keep practicing.
How do you overcome your fears/conflicts? When I'm about to get on stage there's always a bit of nervousness but once I get on stage, I feel like a different person and that fear just goes away. I always look to my mentors such as Ski Sevitski, Smart Mark and Shaniqua Boston as well as choreographers I look up to such as Ian Eastwood, Les Twins and Nick Demoura. They all inspire me and motivate me to keep working harder every day.
What do you plan on doing after high school? Will you be a dance instructor? I'm looking forward to college. I'd love to find a great academic school where I can major in business and minor in dance. I'd love to be a hip hop choreographer, with a studio so I can help encourage young hip hop dancers.