Jeremy Finney says there are good and bad aspects to being one of the only hip-hop dance instructors in the Kansas City area. On one hand, the demand is very high for his expertise. But that also means he has to turn down a lot of work.
Finney, an instructor at Katie's Dance Studio, 1290 Eisenhower Road, has been dancing all his life. His dance education is both self-taught and classical. When he was six, he was inspired by the "Thriller" music video to learn to move like the Sequinned-Gloved One. In sixth grade, he began learning to break dance, inspired by the movie "Beat Street."
Later, after graduating from Lansing High School in 2001, he took classes at Kansas City Kansas Community College as well as at DanceWorks Conservatory in Leawood, where he also works.
In addition to Katie's and DanceWorks, Finney teaches at two other studios in the KC-metro area. He says he bases his schedule first on Katie's, because the owner, Katie Holmes, gives him the most freedom in his teaching and choreography.
Altogether, he teaches 19 classes at the four studios. He began teaching at Katie's in July, after he and Holmes gave a workshop and choreographed a dance show based on the routines in the "Thriller" video. What worked for Finney worked for the new generation: about 30 children, enough for three classes, immediately signed up.
Though 19 hours a week teaching classes may not sound like much, Finney said it's physically demanding. Plus, he choreographs shows the classes put on regularly. Last weekend, there were two.
Finney teaches all ages in his classes. His youngest student, in the boys' athletic dancing/ break dancing class at Katie's, is 5, and he also teaches an adult hip-hop dance class.
Finney said the boys class is offered because it is "harder and harder to get boys" to sign up for dance classes, so he and Holmes came up with a boys-only course, in order to make the environment more comfortable for the students.
Finney said he loves his job because he loves dancing and he loves kids.
"I learn as much from them as they do me," he said.
Despite that, his ultimate goal is to work as choreographer.
"That's my passion and my strongest point," he said.
Name: Jeremy Finney
Address: 203 N. Main St.
Occupation: Hip-hop dance instructor
How long have you lived in Lansing and what brought you here? I've lived in the area my whole life. I stay here because of classes I teach at Katie's Dance Studio.
What do you like most about Lansing? It's got everything you need, without all the problems of a big city.
What do you do for fun? Dance in clubs with my girlfriend, Jordan, and watch movies.
What would surprise people about you? I'm about to be a big brother again. I'm 22 now, and my mom is supposed to give birth any day now.
What's the best advice you ever received? "Follow your dream," from my mom.