Jahmad Harrison: The Life of a Competitive Dancer

Jahmad or “Jah” Harrison is a force to be reckoned with on and off the dance floor.  He is currently a Wells College first-year who is destined to go to big places. Jah started dancing about three years ago to serve as an outlet for his anxiety and other troubles running rampage in his mind. Even though he was self-taught, he was pure, raw talent that needed to be used to the full potential he had. In January 2017, Jahmad joined Power House Dance Company (PHDC) from Brooklyn, NY to form himself into a more versatile dancer. Three months into competition season, Jahmad realized that performing was his calling. Since then, he has begun to start self-choreographing with help from peers and teachers and started to become more advanced in his choreography and technique. Also, Jahmad was the first student from Brooklyn Theatre Arts High School that had his choreography debuted on a Broadway stage for the Roundabout Student Festival: Once on This Island. Additionally, he is a member of the Wells College Prodigy Step team. To this day, Jahmad is pushing himself and others to reach as far as they can and then some. After hearing about Jah’s success, I decided to do a brief interview on his journey and where he plans to go in the future.

Q: How did you get into dancing?

A: Initially, when I started dancing, it was because I was bullied for not having any rhythm and not fitting in with the other dancers in high school.

Q: What was your best dance performance?

A: I think my best performance was when I went to perform in Atlanta for my very first competition with my dance company in 2017.

Q: Did you dance competitively? If so, how was that experience?

A: Yes, I did. At first, it was pretty nerve-wracking but once you hear the crowd cheering you on and the support of loved ones and those you train with it makes you want to leave it all on the floor.

Q: When did you realize that dancing was your passion?

A: I realized dancing was my passion when I did a solo at church and won an all-expense paid trip to represent the NY state in Birmingham, Alabama for a gospel convention.

Q: Reflect on a time when you messed up or forgot your dance. Explain how you felt?

A: A time I messed up was for my first competition in ATL when I forgot on stage and got yelled at by my coach. It was one of the most defeating feelings ever when I know I can do better than what I did.

Q: What dance styles do you dance to?

A: I can perform the following styles: Jazz, modern contemporary, acro ballet, hip-hop, and majorette.

Q: Describe a time when dancing was therapeutic or helped you in a situation.  

A: A time when dancing was therapeutic has to be when it was the two year anniversary of my cousin's death I was devastated and just listening to Pray by Sam Smith and just letting the music flow through my body, and it dried the tears up and just made me feel at peace.

Q: Where do you want dancing to take you?

A: I want to dance to help me open my studio to form a competition team and show people that anything is possible through teamwork and determination

Q: Would you want a dancing profession? Why not?

A: Yes, I find dance to be an art form that is just being scratched by the forces of man, and I want to see everything the world of dance has to offer no matter what the challenge and even if I have to make something up myself, I am ready to tackle it with no regrets.

Q: As a black male dancer, how do you feel you are breaking stereotypes?

A: In this generation when people think of a black male between the ages of 18-20, the first thought is someone gang-affiliated or a criminal running the streets, but I am breaking that stereotype by staying in school and being true to who I am as an individual. This year I joined Prodigy to improve my hand-eye coordination, but during my time on the team there have been ups and downs but both have made me realized that I have gained a new family. We’re more than just a step team and I am only 1 of 3 freshmen on the team. I know I have a long way to go but this is only the beginning, and I can just go up from here.