There are three things that I love: I love men’s fine haberdashery…I love music…and I love the Swing Dance art form called Steppin. The great thing for me is that I’ve found a way to merge the three things that I love the most into a “package” that allows me, a somewhat introverted guy, to present myself to the world. When I’m dancing, I’m different and I can feel it in every part of my body…I’m in a zone, a different world. And when I know that my total look is polished and impressive, it adds to the mystique of the dance and helps to enhance my image. This is a confidence booster to me. I get great admiration and respect from others who participate in this art form, in large part because I’m particular about how I choose to present it. You can do it too!!
My affinity for non-professional dancing goes back to my childhood days when my aunts and uncles would come to visit us from Chicago. Often they would visit us late in the evening, usually after our bedtime, and my mom would wake us up and tell us to come down and dance for them. We’d all circle up and do our interpretation of the latest dances: the Camel Walk, the Jerk, the James Brown and even the Funky Chicken. We’d dance as hard and as frantically as we could, making our relatives yelp, laugh and yell at us to keep it going. If we really got into it, they would start throwing money at our feet which made us dance with even more vigor, trying to get them to throw out as much money as we could possibly get. After we had thoroughly entertained them and totally exhausted ourselves, we would gather up all the money, head upstairs with our “bounty”, count it out, and split it up among ourselves. We were happy that we had gotten money, but I was even happier because I earned my money doing something I loved to do. I think of those moments often because they helped shape my affinity for urban dance and it was always fun when we did it. My love for R&B music and my appreciation for dance began with those experiences…and I’ve been on a dance floor somewhere in America ever since!
Originally from Gary, IN, I have been a native of Indianapolis, Indiana for the past 27 years and has been dancing informally my entire life. I was initially exposed to the art form of Steppin in the fall of 2002. I began my instruction in the spring of 2003 with “Lady Margaret” Fisher and was eventually referred to Brian “SteppinB” Patterson for further instruction from the male perspective. SteppinB was the only real instructor I had until he moved to California in the Spring of 2006.
My evolution in the dance and subsequent success would not be possible dancing alone. I had the luxury of having two capable partners in Ms. Nicole Reeves and later in my dance evolution Ms. Nicola Thomas. These two women, both “Boppers” initially, are very capable dancers in their own right and had mastered the ability to “follow” before coming to Steppin’. Both ladies further honed their abilities after learning Chicago Steppin’ and their skill sets provided the perfect platform to showcase my niche in the dance, a ‘Ballroom-type” style of Steppin’ showcasing the abilities of my partners as well as a smooth, rhythmic flow while highlighting the more intimate and romantic aspects of the dance. Steppin’ also has a cultural dance counterpart called “Walkin’”, where the partner is held close while moving to slower music such as ballads and traveling the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction. I’ve been able to establish my own style and proficiency in Walkin’ as well. I have been perfecting my skill and proficiency in the dance over the past eleven years and there’s always something new you can learn in this dance!!
Artistic Motions (AM) was founded in October of 2003. In December of the very same year we began teaching Chicago Steppin’ at the Riverside Community Center in Indianapolis for teens and adults. From it’s inception, AM has provided instruction for students across the metropolis. At times there were more out-of-town students in class than local ones. Former AM students have come from all professions, including nurses, engineers, IT professionals, business consultants, travel agents, lawyers, service managers, salesmen, college professors and the like. Steppin’ seemed to appeal to all walks of life in the urban environment. The age range for AM students was from 17 to 69 years old!
The list of accomplishments for Artistic Motions includes:
- December 2003 – December 2012: Lead instructor for weekly Chicago Steppin classes at Riverside Community Center 2420 E. Riverside Drive, Indianapolis
- First true steppers event in Indianapolis, IN, in 2004 at the Madame Walker Historic Casino Ballroom, a “sold out” event
- Host of the monthly event “Steppin On The Avenue” at the Madame Walker Historic Casino Ballroom
- Featured performer at the Indiana Black Expo Kick-off event, 2004 and 2005
- Winner of the largest and only steppers contest in Indianapolis 2006, grand prize $1K
- 2005 featured Steppin instructor and performer for the Eastern Star Christian Church Annual Marriage Retreat
- July 2004 – Featured on Livin’ For The City, a Saturday morning local television program hosted by Light of the World Christian Church, a congregation of 3000+ parishioners
- December 2009 – Featured guest instructor/performer for Indiana Association of Black Professionals Annual Holiday Soul Celebration
- September 2009 – Monthly host of the steppin hour at establishment formerly known as Cloud 9 Bar and Grill, the largest minority-owned club in Indianapolis
- November 2010 – Featured Stepper on Urban Lifestylze, an entertainment magazine television show airing in Louisville, Kentucky
- August 2011 – Featured Performer, Prostate Cancer Awareness Campaign, St. Louis, MO
- Co-created AM 317 Steppers, an organization which host sold out semi-annual steppers events in Indianapolis with attendees from major mid-western metropolitan cities. Attendees have traveled from as far away as Los Angeles, CA to attend AM317 events
- Artistic Motions made history in the spring of 2010 by hosting the first steppers weekend event in the city of Indianapolis when it hosted their 6th semi-annual “Steppin in Shades” event.
- 2012 Participant in the Light of the World Christian Church Community Fair teaching over 150 parishioners the basics of Chicago Steppin’
- November 2013 – Harlem Nights Steppers Weekend, Lead Instructor for “Romancing The Dance” Couples Workshop
- October 2013 – AM video “Somebody Else’s Arms” featured in Blackdoctor.org to represent Chicago Steppin as a form of exercise for weight reduction.
- July 2014 – Host of Keyz Upscale Entertainment Chicago Steppers Weekend in Columbus, OH featuring Carmichael Music Lover.
- August 2014 – Launch of Artistic Motions Smooth Chicago Steppin Online website; www.artisticmotions.com
- October 2014 – Artistic Motions featured in the “Black and Married With Kids” blog “Three Ways Steppin’ Can Help Your Marriage”
- July 2015 – Artistic Motions selected as a representative of Chicago Steppin’ for the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian opening September 24, 2016. A portion of the video “Somebody Else’s Arms” featured in a four-minute narrated video exhibit of dances performed in the urban dance community. The exhibit is on display in the “Cultural Expressions” gallery at the NMAAHC at the Smithsonian.
- Year 2016 – Monthly AM Workshops (from March to October) in Pittsburgh, PA and Houston, TX in December.
- Year 2017 – AM Workshops in Woodbridge, VA, Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC and Houston, TX (monthly from Jan – Nov).
- AM Smooth Chicago Steppin’ Dance Showcase – The 12th Annual Instructor’s Black & White Ball, November 25th, 2017, Houston, TX.
Stay Connected with “Smooth” Steppin’ and Artistic Motions…sign up today!