Our club’s very own choreographer, professional dancer, and teacher. This creative guy does it all.
Name: Kevin J.
Number of Years Playing: 2
Been with the Spikers since: Sep 2017
So let's get to know more about you Kevin... Tell us where you're from and how you ended up in London?
I am a South Londoner born and bred. Apparently that's a rare breed! I have lived in Brighton for a couple years but London is definitely the place I am settled in and call home.
So you're British innit... what on earth piqued your interest in volleyball? Every time a Brit joins the club there is a collective gasp of "oye, we don't see many of yuss round here mate." Or not as many as we would expect given that we are in London.
I was looking for something to get fit that wasn't the gym! I hate lifting weights and the monotony of a running machine. I saw an advert for Spikers and decided to have a go.
So I hear you're a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Tell us more.
I have danced since I left uni—performing with disabled dance companies in England and had an opportunity to tour in Europe and on home turf. I have performed with SignDance Collective and Frontline Dance. A lot of my work has been with Deaf Men Dancing and had opportunities to dance on the South Bank, all over the country, Paris and recently Dubai. I was Assistant Choreographer on the musical 'Tommy' with Ramps on the moon—promoting disabled performers in the arts. I'm deaf by the way.
Does being deaf affect you at Spikers and if so how?
Growing up deaf you learn to deal with situations on an individual basis. I naturally am more visual anyway so take cues from other people when training, stand closer to coaches with clear view of their face and body for explanations and demonstrations, ask for repetition or ask someone else to explain what I have missed. The rockets do this second nature and I appreciate this - they would repeat for anyone who missed something. This is harder when I have one hearing aid for whatever reason. I don't think being deaf even pops into my teammates heads - they don't treat me differently because of it and are respectful if I need help. I like it this way.
I was recently watching an episode of the FX series POSE, where the dance teacher throws a kid out saying she uses Encouragement and then Shame to inspire her students—at least I think that's what I understood. I was like "damn that's harsh." As a dance teacher do you follow that pedagogical principle?
I was a tough dance teacher for kids and was insistent on respect and manners! If dancers try then thats all I wanted. Now I teach adults and that is about instilling a sense of fun and enjoyment in the class. My dance teaching now is about move, sweat and smile while doing it.
As a dance teacher, do you see similarities with volleyball coaching? Are you spiking balls at your dancers yelling at them to bend their knees? Is your main goal to demoralise them?
Haha! I gave one a space hopper once for his warm up but never spiking balls at them! Don't think they would come back! Coaching Is very similar across sports - knowing the reason why we are focusing on something and breaking down a skill or move and building it up to execution.
If presented the opportunity again, would you like to choreograph a number for the closing party of the club's LIVE tournament? If so, what song and type of production do you have in mind?
I believe in taking opportunities that come your way when possible! I would totally be doing a pop song! Gaga, Rihanna, Britney - it would be formations all over the place and most importantly a chance for the dancers to have fun! Would love to yarn the volleyballers and the alpha dancers together!
Are you a "West Side Story," "Flashdance," or "Step Up" kinda guy?
It's all about Flashdance! The energy and the jazz style of that is one of those memories of being younger (like with Fame) and just wanting to dance and basically have water pour all over me on a chair! Who wouldn't?! Just take my hearing aids out first though! Maybe minus the leotard as well!
Do you have a public instagram or youtube channel where we can see your fly moves?
Alphadancers_lgbtq_ on Instagram has our announcements and class videos.
Besides dance, teaching, and volleyball, what else do you do in your free time?
I am currently completing my post grad diploma in deaf education so will be glad when that beast is over and done with! I also travel as much as possible! I'm totally addicted and usually am away more than I am in the country.
What have you learned (if anything) from playing in an organised sports team? Anything you can apply to your non-volleyball life?
It's consolidated my opinion that our country is so multi-cultural and it's really important to respect everyone, including their beliefs and opinions even when you don't agree. Sometimes you got to let things go. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Being a dancer, I anticipate that you must have one elegant three step approach to spiking. What have you enjoyed the most about playing volleyball?
There ain't anything elegant about my three step approach! Definitely need practice! I've really enjoyed getting fit and challenging myself with a new team sport. I might dance but I wouldn't say I'm sporty and I enjoy feeling part of a team and working together! Even when I'm losing the points most the time! Sorry guys!
What have you enjoyed the most about the club?
Just a regular training session to try and improve and of course I've met some great people!
In your 2 years in the club, share with us your top 3 memories or highlights of being a Spiker? They can be from training, from social events or in any other context really...
Not in any order but:
Taking part in LIVE tournament with the Dolly Partons! Was an awesome event and experience considering I was a newbie.
Wearing Heels for first time at our Xmas party.
Performing at Freedom Bar as part of the LIVE tournament last year with the Alpha Dancers.
When and where can we see you perform next? Dancing that is.
Alpha dancers are performing at the final of Pride got Talent - super exciting! We've got through 2 rounds so now it's the big one! It's on Sunday 16th June! Details to be confirmed but will be a central London theatre in the evening. Come along and support if you can.