By Brandon Baiden
Standing in black sweats and a loose t-shirt, Joya Powell, A Stony Brook dance instructor, took a sip of her water and removed her knee brace as she unwound from her last dance rehearsal of the day.
For the past three years Powell has been an instrumental part of the dance program here, where she teaches students of all classifications about the art of dancing. Joya realized her passion for dancing when she was attending LaGuardia High School of the performing arts.
“I was actually a drama major and in our drama major we did have dance classes as well,” she said. “And through that, I realized that I didn’t just have a passion for drama and acting but I also really enjoyed movement.”
Soon after discovering her love for dance, Powell decided to attend Alvin and Ailey dance school, where she took West African dance, jazz and learned the “Graham Technique.”
Dance has allowed Powell to travel the world. She lived in Brazil for four years and studied Afro-Brazilian dancing. After starting her own company she has had performances in San Diego, Maryland and the Tri-State Area.
“Movement of the PEOPLE Dance Company is my own company which I founded five years ago and it is a company of approximately 10 dancers, so I’m the artistic director and choreographer for that company.”
Powell’s family is entirely supportive of her dancing. Ever since she was young, her parents have had a tradition of attending every performance she has had. Even if she performs the same piece two nights in a row, her parents are sitting in the audience watching proudly.
“My parents are a major part of my process,” she said. “When I’m choreographing a piece I would go to both my mother and father for ideas and feedback.”
While at Stony Brook, Powell has taught many classes including Jazz 1, Jazz 2, Intro to World Dance Cultures, World Dance 1 and World Dance 2.
But Stony Brook isn’t the only place that Powell educates students. She teaches for Wingspan, an arts and education organization and also teaches hip-hop dance to 6th graders in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Powell’s love for choreographing and teaching others has allowed her to keep dancing through the years. Although it is sometimes painful, she keeps going.
“I hope that my students learn that all dance is connected, no matter what the style, no matter what the technique and no matter what part of the world it comes from, all dance is connected.”