06/28/13 — Dancer shares his skills with local students

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Dancer shares his skills with local students

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on June 28, 2013 1:46 PM

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Joe-Joe Smith teaches a hip hop dance class at A Step of Class dance studio. Smith, a graduate of East Carolina University, now lives in Los Angeles, and has danced for artists like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj and P. Diddy.

Joe-Joe "Grooves" Smith has danced with stars like Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, P. Diddy, Kat Graham, Jennifer Nettles with the group Sugarland and Keri Hilson. He traveled the world for five years with Taiwan pop stars Wang Lee Hom and Amei.

Now he's in Goldsboro teaching students at A Step of Class hip hop and jazz dancing.

The 30-year-old has been doing a master class for all of the dance studios' students this week.

"I taught them a hip hop number done to a Justin Bieber song," Smith said. "I have a lot of friends who dance for Justin, and he's really a cool kid."

Smith also taught the dance studio's competition group a song called "Mannequin."

"One dancer plays an everyday person walking by some mannequins," Smith said. "He's listening to the radio and the music magically makes the mannequins dance.

"The piece consists of a lot of acting. Dancers have to know how to act as well as dance."

A Step of Class owner Tammy Evans said having professional dancers come in to teach classes gives the students a well-rounded sense of the dance world.

"It's always good for them to get different teacher to broaden their dance career," she said. "And it gives them a broader variety of what hip hop dance is.

"They're really having a blast."

Hope Brock, 13, said she really liked Smith giving dance lessons.

"I'm learning different kinds of hip hop steps," she said. "It's been a little hard because some of it is really fast. But I feel good when I'm doing the dance."

Smith is a native of Greensboro, but grew up in Hollister. He has wanted to be a dancer since he was 7 and got inspired by Janet Jackson. Plus his mother was a dancer and he figures it's hereditary.

Smith graduated from East Carolina University with a bachelor's degree, then moved to Los Angeles when he was just 22.

"Right away I got an agent and stared training and taking classes in hip hop and jazz dance," he said. "My very first gig was dancing with Jennifer Hudson. I performed with her at Disneyland."

He just got done traveling the world with the Taiwan pop stars, performing in such places as Asia, Australia, several countries in Europe and even throughout the U.S.

He's back in Los Angeles auditioning for more dancing gigs and taking more dancing classes.

"I fly back and forth to teach and give back to kids in studios in North Carolina," Smith said. "The kids at A Step of Class are amazing, very energetic and very passionate about what they're doing. They listen and learn very well and are quick to do what I say, which means they're picking it up fast."