By JR Valrey, the People’s Minister of Information and editor in chief of the SF Bay View
When you talk about creativity, it seems like the more melanin you have, the more creative you are en masse. When it comes to dance, one can express themselves in an infinite number of ways by how they let their bodies sway, bob, rock, or jerk to the beat. The body can also maneuver in an infinite number of contortions, which have proven to be attractive over centuries just looking at the currency spent on dance competitions, belly dancing, stripping and more.
The new wave of dance that is trending is stiletto dance classes, and Jamesha Smith is the beautiful instructor that is going to give us a verbal tour into that world. Watching her choreography on IG, I was frozen and watched her twist, grind and wiggle until the end of the song.
For all the ladies with rhythm in Stockton, or willing to go to Stockton, this is definitely a class for you if you’re interested. And for those without rhythm, y’all can attend and watch until that moment when you can feel the beat. lol
Jamesha Smith offers classes for stiletto dance. She is on IG, so y’all need to tune in. Check her out in her own words.
JR Valrey: Can you talk a little bit about your stiletto dance class? How was it conceived?
Jamesha Smith: My stiletto dance classes are new, where I teach people how to walk confidently in stiletto heels, learn sexy choreography in them, and how to execute those moves efficiently while boosting their confidence. I am aiming to create another safe space where dancers at any level, of any kind can not only have artistic liberation, but learn a new dance style, and be themselves allowing them to have fun while expressing themselves. I did hip hop choreography up until about two years ago. I then had adopted the stiletto dancing style when I started taking the classes with another dancer and good friend of mine, Dana Ford, who was teaching at the time and I consistently came to her classes once to twice a week. I just realized this past April 4th made it officially two years since I have started my stiletto journey.
JR Valrey: Congratulations. Where and when is your class?
Jamesha Smith: I am now a new instructor at Fitness Works Lodi gym, which is located in the city of Lodi, California. The gym is a private gym with so many great amenities and machines to work out on. In fact bodybuilders train there.
I am scheduled twice out of the month, every first and third Fridays from 8 p.m to 9:30 p.m. Of course, if there is a fifth week in the month then I instruct that third day of the month.
JR Valrey: Why are these types of dance classes trending right now, in your opinion?
Jamesha Smith: I believe the reason they are a hot commodity right now is due to the impact they have on people and their everyday lives. Since I have started doing stiletto dancing I have come across others who suffer from anxiety, depression, body insecurities, women who have just had a baby, and some of those who struggle with confidence and need a boost.
These kinds of classes are meant to help with all of that and have been proven to have done just that! I have seen when people come into class one way and have left feeling like a whole new person, and to me that is a very beautiful thing to be able to witness.
JR Valrey: How long have you been a dancer? What kind of dance were you originally trained in?
Jamesha Smith: I have always been a dancer since I was young, I want to say since I was about six or seven. This started when I was younger, I had attended these summer recreational camps in Stockton.
The very first recreational camp I ever attended was at the Sierra Vista gym on the southern side of Stockton. The camp had volunteers and we had one volunteer who was a dancer, I forgot her name though.
But she decided to create a group of us where we would be a dance crew of some sort and compete with other camps. She had us training for weeks before the competition. It was a nice group of us, I’d say about five or six of us in the group. We had done a hip hop choreography piece to Ludacris’ song “Southern Hospitality” so hip hop became instilled in me too.
JR Valrey: How did you graduate into creating your own style?
Jamesha Smith: I found out that dance was going to be a huge part of my life at a very young age, when I went from summer recreational camp competitions, to taking dance in school when I joined dance club in high school, I took a hip hop dance course while I attended college, and progressed from there.
To be honest I am still growing as a dancer and performer. I still take other dance classes to improve my skill as a performer. Although, If I had to describe my style, I would say it is passionate, very expressive and fun – I would say my dancing speaks for itself, it is almost like I am telling a story whenever I do.
JR Valrey: How has the city of Stockton affected the way you express yourself through dance?
Jamesha Smith: I was born, raised and grew up in the city of Stockton, California. It is a small town where plenty of things happen. I grew up on the southern side of town where we had our own norm.
For example, I was around nothing but minorities at that time so that is all I knew; the only races that were around me were Mexican and Black. I knew nothing else so when I began dancing it allowed me to become more cultured and more aware even while being faced with minor racist situations.
There are a lot of occurrences here such as the homelessness factor that has become extremely high in percentage, the city has not always been known for career or job opportunities. We have high crime here too – the city was going bankrupt at one point and let’s not even forget Covid.
Although Covid was a worldwide issue, it very much impacted some cities harder than others, causing an even bigger rift between people in communities. Everything that has happened over these years growing up I haven’t fallen victim to.
I am sad to hear this about my own city, yes, but I use that as my motivation to keep dancing and turn that energy into something positive, to inspire. Whenever I am asked where I am from, I have no shame in telling people. And people just give me these looks of either shock and semi disgust and they say, “No way! You’re not from Stockton!”.
I could be an individual losing my mind right now, because my city may not be perfect, but I am not and I won’t. People already have a negative prejudgment about Stockton due to its display. I always say it is not the city itself that makes it bad, it is the people.
Even with me being from Stockton, my dancing is a reflection that there are still kind hearted and talented people here, and we are not the city that we are from.
JR Valrey: How do you want people to feel after they watch one of your many choreography videos that you drop on IG? What do you want people to get out of it?
Jamesha Smith: I want people to feel liberated, comfortable and confident with knowing that they can do whatever it is they dream of too; no matter what it is they want. I want people to know it is okay to pursue your dreams by taking that great leap of faith and just going for what you love, whether it is gaining a career as a doctor, developer, a nurse, a soccer player or even an engineer of some sort, and not care about the odds that may or may not be against you.
I have some odds with what I do, and I am perfectly okay with that. It is not about the odds, it is about how you consistently push yourself everyday past those odds by just being your authentic self. Treat others well, stay true to the art and the process and just enjoy what you do. I want people to be happy knowing what they do one day can also inspire and motivate others just by how passionate they are.
JR Valrey: Who have you done choreography for?
Jamesha Smith: I am working on some things at the moment. I have danced in several concept scenes for videography for Dana Ford in her classes. I have done a couple music videos for local artists here in Stockton such as Airrial and Bread Entertainment. I will be working with this content creator for which she reached out to me via Instagram to do a choreography for her boyfriend, who is an upcoming artist and has a new song out so that will be fun. So yes I do have some projects up my sleeve right now, but can’t really say too much, but you will have to stay tuned to see.
JR Valrey: Who are some of your favorite dancers and why?
Jamesha Smith: Oh my goodness, this list can go on and on and on. I do have a few great ones I can name, for starters I love Aliya Janell, her energy blows my mind every time I see her dance. I absolutely love how she has fun with her choreographies. I love Aisha Francis because she is one of the pioneers for stiletto dancing, and she is still killing the game.
Also Danielle Polanco is a pioneer as well, her sensuality and technique is incredible which I feel does not get enough credit at all. I fell in love with Will Adams when it came down to hip hop choreography, his creativity and versatility is insane. Those are a few to name that are my top favorites that I am watching right now.
JR Valrey: How would you describe the Stockton dance scene?
Jamesha Smith: I would describe the scene as definitely growing, for sure. There has been and is so much talent out here for dance. We have step teams turned majorette groups, dance teams for the youth as part of education in elementary and high schools. There are dance courses and classes. Stockton now has three studios dedicated for dancers as we speak. Dance is definitely part of the city’s culture, I hope to continue to see it get stronger and stronger with time.
JR Valrey: How could people get more info on your classes?
Jamesha Smith: If there is anyone who has an interest, has any questions or concerns about my classes you can find me on Facebook @Jamesha N Smith and I am also on Instagram @iamsoulnicole. I also have a TikTok @SultrytheDea. I am working on becoming more present there. My Instagram is public so you’ll see all of my content. I am currently working on joining other platforms but that is where I am currently.
JR Valrey, journalist, author, filmmaker and founder of Black New World Media, heads the SF Bay View’s Oakland Bureau and is founder of his latest project, the Ministry of Information Podcast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Instagram.