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.
How long have you been dancing and why did you get started? - I have been dancing since i was 2 so for 13 years and I started dancing because my other friends were. Also, I was very girly and had an interest in dancing!
What are the different kinds of dance you do and have done in the past? -
I currently do jazz, tap, lyrical, acting, select dance groups, and our performing team. In the past I have done acting, jazz, tap, lyrical, ballet, hip hop, and performances. I also have a leading role in this years musical as Wendy from Peter Pan!
If you had to choose only 3 types of dance classes to take what would they be and why? - If I only had 3 choices of classes, I would choose, tap, jazz, and ballet. I would choose these because tap is my absolute favorite style of dance, also, jazz is one of my strongest styles and lastly I would choose ballet because it works on technique and it is basically the platform of all dancing!
Have you ever been on any dance teams? If so, where have you traveled and what were your favorite moments? -
Yes, i am currently on my dance studios dance team called, "Turning Out", we travel all over pennsylvania and go to disney world every 2-3 years. Also, we dance at Peddlers village, the 76ers, the Harlem Globetrotters, Newtown and Yardley parades, public events in bucks county, the Phillies, Trenton Thunder, Applebee's fundraisers, and many other events! This year we are going to New York City and New Orleans to the college bowl! My favorite thing about being on a team is having all of my friends to support me. Lastly, we share many memories that will never be forgotten!
When you are dancing, what is going through your mind, whether it’s emotions or just something random? - Usually when I am dancing, I am watching myself in the mirrors trying to fix what i'm doing wrong. my mind kind of just goes blank and the dances are muscle memory.
If you could dance anywhere in the world where would it be and why? - I would dance in the Bahamas or in the Caribbean because it's a nice warm tropical place and it would be a perfect bonding experience for my team and I!
When did you start dancing and why did you want to dance in the first place? - Originally I went to a different studio then where I currently dance and danced for almost 7 years there. I took a long break from dance and started up at Elements Dance Factory where I knew a lot of people. Everyone was incredibly supportive the first day I came in and still are today. I wanted to start dancing again because I missed expressing different emotions throughout my body and I was practicing a few dance moves at my house and realized how much I missed dancing.
If you could be any dancer for a day who would you be and why? - If I could be any dancer for a day I would want to be Maddie Ziegler. She is such an incredible dancer and an incredible person as well. She has inspired many people including me to be themselves and dance comfortably in their own skin. I also love her style and I’ve known her and been a fan for a few years.
If you could try any new genre of dance what would it be and why? - If I could try any new style of dance it would be contemporary. Over the summer I took a few contemporary classes and I got very emotionally connected to the movements and music. The style is very unique and every move has a different feeling which I love and also works on technique!
What are some of the best moments you have had at dance? - In the summer I took a dance intensive camp at Elements Dance Factory and received the dance scholarship. After 6 years of not dancing, I felt a huge rush of accomplishment that day, especially that everyone I danced with was incredible. I also love all of the people I dance with. They are all very supportive, including the teachers, and being there allows me to feel very comfortable in my own skin.
Over the course of the time you have been dancing at your current studio, how have you developed as a dancer? - Although I have only been dancing for a short period of time, I definitely feel like I have improved at dancing. Hip hop has always been a very fun genre of dance to me and as I continue to practice, I feel like the movements are coming to me more easily and I don’t struggle as much with remembering dances.