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  • Writer's pictureidancebecause

Dance Kamal, DANCE!

I first saw Kamal dancing when he was about 5 years old at St. James AME Church Safe

Haven Summer Peace Camp. I remember looking at this little boy on stage, saying to myself – “that boy is going to be a dancer.” Kamal Johnson passed away, June 2020 from a tragic car accident. His life, his gift of dance and his faith has been an inspiration to so many.

Kamal had just finished his first year at SUNY Purchase as a dance major. He graduated from Newark Arts High School (The nation's first public high school for the arts). Kamal was still discoing himself as an artist. He had been accepted into summer programs at the Dance Theater of Harlem, American Ballet, Debbie Allen Academy and the Joffrey Ballet but he always felt most at home at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

Whenever Kamal performed at Arts High School, he had a huge fan club of family and friends who came to support. Even though his fan club cheered every time he danced onstage, he remained focused and professional. One of my favorite pieces Rainbow Etude in which Kamal danced a solo reconstruction of Donald Mckayle's, Rainbow Round my Shoulder. Kamal delivered this piece with athleticism and physicality far beyond his years. He captured the passion, tension and emotional depth of the original work. Kamal commented that it was challenging getting into the character and credits his teacher Ronnie Carney with helping him connect.

I Dance Because has started a scholarship in Kamal's memory. We were fortunate to award our first scholarship recipient in June 2020. We encourage those who want to continue to contribute in his memory to do so to give other young dancers the opportunity to pursue their passion. We continue to lift prayers for him mom and entire family. Kamal left us way too soon, but he will never be forgotten.

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