The Rapidian

Local Spotlight: Deavondre Jones motivates through dance

Lifelong West Michigan resident aims to inspire others and build community through the performing arts.
Deavondre Jones dancing during his drop-in class

Deavondre Jones dancing during his drop-in class /Matt Oberski

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For more information on DanceSpire and Drop-In Wednesdays

Drop-In Week 26 Recap

DanceSpire website

Imprint Dance Company website

When talking to Deavondre Jones and hearing him speak about his past or his plans for the future, his fervor and drive are infectious. It makes sense that at 23, he has already developed a company that mixes the performing arts and public speaking, amongst many other ventures.

Born and raised in Benton Harbor, Jones has been involved in the performing arts for most of his life, emphasizing dance. After growing up in a Pentecostal church community and mimicking the moves he saw in movies like Stomp the Yard and You Got Served, Jones’ life has been filled with energy and movement. In middle school, he joined I’m Saving Myself, a nonprofit program for students that utilizes the performing arts to promote positivity and abstinence from drugs, violence, etc., where his interest in dance began to blossom. He expressed his passion to the program after finding out it was not offered in high school, which resulted in Jones working with I’m Saving Myself and leading the program at other local schools.

Jones moved to Grand Rapids after graduating high school to attend Grand Rapids Community College. He remained in school even after his friends who accompanied him dropped out, but when he returned home for the holidays his sophomore year, he felt disheartened; while he was progressing in life, he saw that his family was still disenfranchised and struggling.

“Nothing I was doing was changing my family’s situation; ‘What I’m doing right now just isn’t cutting it,’” Jones said. His solution was DanceSpire. The decision was to combine two things he was most passionate about: speaking and dancing.

“The overall goal and the values that I have with DanceSpire were always with me,” Jones said. His performances through DanceSpire aim to send a message and inspire audiences, to make them think about their life and surroundings. Since establishing DanceSpire in 2013, his clients include the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, as well as various schools across Michigan. His work through his company also earned Jones a presidential scholarship to attend Columbia College in Chicago.

“It definitely solidified my self-advocacy, my belief in my ability to just do what I want to do,” Jones said.

In addition to his work with DanceSpire, Jones has been instructing weekly drop-in dance classes at Imprint Dance Company in Grand Rapids. While he has been leading classes since late 2016, Jones decided that with a new year comes a new ambition. His plan is to lead a drop-in dance class every Wednesday, rain or shine, in 2017.

The classes focus on hip-hop choreography, composed by Jones, with each week bringing a new song and dance to the table. Though the class is only an hour and fifteen minutes long, Jones teaches the dance in segments so that attendees can learn the moves in time, which can be complex and sometimes intense for beginners. However, by the end of the class, dancers of all skill levels are performing the choreography with impressive accuracy.

“People don’t care how hard the class is, as long as it’s fun,” Jones said. He went on to say that whether people attend the class to learn choreography, to get a workout, or otherwise, the ultimate goal with his classes is to build an inspiring, positive community without fear of judgment or criticism.

“I want to lead by example. I’m trying to develop something that’s authentic, something that’s positive, and something that happens consistently,” he said. This will be week 28, and he hasn’t missed a class yet.

As for the future, Jones has many plans. He wants to progress and further promote DanceSpire, continue building the local dance community, and even has prospects as a financial advisor for artists in the future. He says that he loves learning, and is always trying to plan ahead and improve his skills, claiming he knows where he wants to be by 2024 and looking as far ahead as 2050.

“When your vision is really clear and strong, regardless of what’s around you, it pulls you,” he said.

Jones’ drive and zeal for strengthening the community and empowering people around him is clearly unstoppable. Paraphrasing “other successful people,” he said, “I truly believe it does take a little insanity to have a reality but to still think and believe that something else is possible.”

Drop-In Wednesday classes are held at Imprint Dance Company every week beginning at 8:15 p.m. and the cost is $7. For more information, please contact Imprint Dance Company at 616-575-9969.

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