I first saw Kamal dancing when he was about 5 years old at St. James 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.” Sure enough that little boy turned into a talented, gifted dancer. Now 17 years old, a graduating senior at Arts High School in Newark, NJ (The Nation's First Public High School for The Arts), Kamal is still discovering who he is as an artist. Kamal first remembers himself dancing at a Christmas gathering with his family when he was about 3 years old. “Everyone was opening gifts and I was River dancing. I just wanted to dance!” Kamal has auditioned for and been accepted into summer programs at the Dance Theater of Harlem, American Ballet Theater, Debbie Allen Academy and the Joffrey Ballet but he feels most at home at the Ailey School. Now in level 7 in the Jr. Division Kamal is thinking about his next step as he prepares for college. His options are wide open.
I recently saw Kamal perform in Arts High School Legacy concert. A huge fan club of family and friends came to support him. Even though his fan club cheered every time he danced onstage, he remained focused and professional. All of the pieces in the concert were superb. One of my favorites was Rainbow Etude in which Kamal danced a solo reconstruction of Donald Mckayle, 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.
September 2019, Kamal will be off to college. He has set his sights on all the top schools for dance (SUNY Purchase, Point Park, Julliard, Univ of the Arts, Dominican University) but knows he will always be connected to the Ailey School in some way. He credits his mom for pushing him and motivating him to always do and be his best. Although he is still searching to define himself, his mom knows he is a dedicated, respectful young man who is passionate about his craft. Kamal has big dreams and is using dance to make them come true.