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Health is wealth: an interview wit’ Soca dance teacher Nakeya Murray

March 25, 2014

by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey

Health is wealth, and some of the sistas in the Oakland community, led by dance teacher Nakeya Murray, have added a little Caribbean soul twist to their exercise regimen by way of Soca dancing on a weekly basis. Here, Nakeya discusses her inspiration and love of dance.

Soca dancing at San Francisco Carnaval
Soca dancing at San Francisco Carnaval
I know some of y’all want to work your way into your envisioned summer bodies. This can be accomplished with her cardio-intensive dance classes. Check her out in person from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Monday at The W.E.B. Studio, located at 355 12th St. in Oakland. For now, check her out in her own words.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about how and when you decided to become a dance teacher?

Nakeya: I have always loved to dance but never thought about teaching seriously until last April. I worked at Futures Elementary School (formerly known as Lockwood Elementary) in the after-school program. All the after-school instructors had to pick a sport to teach for the fitness component of the program.

I wasn’t into sports but I did agree with the idea of getting students active and moving as a form of exercise. I wanted to do something fun that I enjoyed. I figured if I was going to teach it and get the students excited about it, I needed to be excited about it also!

Health is wealth, and some of the sistas in the Oakland community, led by dance teacher Nakeya Murray, have added a little Caribbean soul twist to their exercise regimen by way of Soca dancing on a weekly basis.

So that’s when I came up with the idea of Soca Movement. That’s how I started, teaching the students twice a week. One of the fifth grade teachers started coming to the class and danced with the students. Then one day she asked me if I taught the class for adults. I said no and she suggested that I should think about it.

She said it was a fun class and she would definitely pay for it if I held a class for adults. I thought about it, found a location and started advertising on Facebook.

M.O.I. JR: What kind of dance do you teach? What is Soca? Why did you pick this form of dance to teach?

Nakeya: My class is a combination of dance and aerobics. I use Soca music from the Caribbean Islands, mostly Trinidad and Tobago or St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It’s a high energy music played during Carnival in the Caribbean. I chose this type of dance because I love dancing to Soca music and it’s perfect for a great cardio workout!

M.O.I. JR: What is the primary purpose of the class? Does the class perform?

Nakeya: The primary purpose of my class is to get people moving! It’s a great way to build endurance and it’s a good cardio workout. I also think the class is fun – good way to release some energy at the start of a work week. It’s not a learned choreography type of class so it can accommodate any dance level.

The primary purpose of my class is to get people moving! It’s a great way to build endurance and it’s a good cardio workout. I also think the class is fun.

Currently the class doesn’t perform. However, people who enjoy the class are always welcome and encouraged to join Caribbean Roots and Culture carnival contingent for San Francisco Carnaval 2014! That’s the group I have been with since 2005.

M.O.I. JR: Can you talk about the importance of Black people becoming more healthy?

Nakeya Murray
Nakeya Murray
Nakeya: It’s important for Black people to get more healthy because good health is priceless. If we learn to change our lifestyles a little bit, it will pay off in the long term. Many illnesses can be prevented by simply becoming more mindful of how and what we eat and getting in some good solid movement!

M.O.I. JR: Where are your classes housed? When?

Nakeya: I teach on Monday nights from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The W.E.B. Studio, located at 355 12th St., Oakland.

M.O.I. JR: Do you study other forms of dance? What kinds?

Nakeya: Well, I like many different types of dance, so I’m always taking a class here and there or attempting to learn new dance styles. Currently I’m addicted to East African, Ethiopian and Eritrean traditional dance styles.

M.O.I. JR: What has dance done for your life?

Nakeya: Dance gives me a sense of purpose. It has given me a form of self-expression. When I’m moving, I feel free! Recently it has given me a source of income. I think the best thing it has given me is an opportunity to share what I love with others.

M.O.I. JR: How can people stay in contact with you online?

Nakeya: People can stay connected through liking my Facebook page: Soca Rhythm & Movement Dance Class. I’m also available for workshops and can be reached regarding that at yenaykonjo@gmail.com.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and the newly released “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.

 

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