I'm a writer because I have stage fright.
L. N. Holmes: “Where is your hometown?”
Kayla Hocker: “I was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Prince Georges County, Maryland.”
L. N. Holmes: “What is your chosen artistic profession?”
Kayla Hocker: “I am a youth dance instructor and performing artist.”
L. N. Holmes: “Why did you choose to become a dancer?”
Kayla Hocker: “I have been in dance classes since I was about four years old but the connection I have with the arts really took hold in my preteen years when I saw a presentation of The Wiz by a performing arts troupe named Colours. At that moment I knew I wanted to be a performer, so I joined that group as soon as I could!”
L. N. Holmes: “What messages do you try to communicate through your dancing?”
Kayla Hocker: “The message is within the character. A sense of joy or freedom, maybe sadness or defeat, can be portrayed depending on the performance piece.”
L. N. Holmes: “Do you specialize in any specific types of dance?”
Kayla Hocker: “In all my years of dancing, I have been trained in Hip hop and Modern more heavily than any other style of dance.”
L. N. Holmes: “What was it like to work with Heidi Echols and the Salem College Dance Company?”
Kayla Hocker: “Working with Heidi definitely brought me to new heights of creativity. I was under the impression that there were limits and boundaries, but her guidance, as well as that of Shawn Bowman-Hicks, and the guest residencies of awesome artists, gave me the opportunity to do some amazing pieces beyond anything I could have ever imagined. The dance company helped me to find inspiration in the smallest things of everyday life that resulted in some amazing pieces!”
L. N. Holmes: “Tell us a bit about your experience with the Salem College Ghost Ryders.”
Kayla Hocker: “The Ghost Ryders step team is definitely proof that anything can be done! That’s the only way that I can describe such an awesome success! I am still so proud of such an amazing accomplishment that started out as just a creative outlet for a few women. We never foresaw first place trophies and invitations to out-of-state step shows but we certainly didn’t block the opportunities! For three out of my four years with the Ghost Ryders, I was the president of the team and an active performer; I lead the practices, communicated with organizations for bookings, and helped to lead a crew of passionate officers for our organization to run operations as smooth as possible.
“I would say the most rewarding moments were seeing the energy the group would devote to creating as a team with different steps, strolls, dances, and costumes. Being the president put my leadership skills and the depth of my devotion to the test but it was definitely a memorable experience for me.”
L. N. Holmes: “Who are some of the other people and companies you’ve performed with?”
Kayla Hocker: “I have worked with artists such as Cara Hagan, Anne Morris, Melissa Pihos, Amanda Diorio, and Wesley Williams. Under their instruction I have done West African, Street Jazz, Modern, Hip hop, and Contact Improvisation.”
L. N. Holmes: “Do you have any performances coming up?”
Kayla Hocker: “I currently freelance with different artists and organizations in the D.C. area. My next performance will be dancing background for Mana Isme, a female D.C. lyricist, on November 29.”
L. N. Holmes: “How do you support other artists?”
Kayla Hocker: “I know so many artists! I love to go out to performances, promote shows on social networks, and even be a part of projects for up and coming artists also in exchange for assistance with my work. The artist community from Greensboro to D.C. for me has been all about support and appreciation, so I am present in any way someone may need me!”
L. N. Holmes: “What’s your biggest complaint about the dance industry?”
Kayla Hocker: “My biggest complaint would be giving dancers limits on body type – anyone can be a mover!”
L. N. Holmes: “What/who inspires you?”
Kayla Hocker: “People like Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Josephine Baker, Martha Graham, and Isadora Duncan who were fearless creators, performing artists, activists, and vessels for methods in movement and expression that we still use today. Music is also a huge inspiration to my artistry!”
L. N. Holmes: “What would you recommend to others trying to become dancers?”
Kayla Hocker: “I would recommend persistence and creativity. Also, never allow yourself to lose that fire that inspired you to create in the beginning – always fuel it however you can.”
L. N. Holmes: Name a few of your favorite books and why they are your favorites.
Kayla Hocker: “When Women Were Birds, Half the Sky, While Mortals Sleep, The Fault in Our Stars,The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, and To Kill a Mockingbird just to name a few!”
To view more of Kayla’s performances, visit her YouTube page.
Taylor Edwards, dancer and dance instructor