Pushing your natural gifts to the limit: How determination can motivate many to take their talents and be someone 

Pushing your natural gifts to the limit: How determination can motivate many to take their talents and be someone 

Damarion Johnson, Guest Writer

Talent, something that everyone has, is one of the most satisfying things anyone could possess. Unfortunately, for some, they don’t take what they have and make something out of it. That could be because they’re too shy or they’re afraid of people judging them.

The thing is, it shouldn’t matter what people say or think about what you can do. If you have a distinct talent, take that and go to further heights with it. Something that I’ve said to myself that always kept me on track to pursue my dream is, “it’s never too late to chase what you believe in.” This, for me, means that no matter what you’re going through or what’s getting in the way of what you want to do in life, stay optimistic. Don’t become pessimistic and give up. There’s always a way to get to your dreams.

If you ask me, I’d say who cares about what others think. If you have an ability that’s unique to you, take that and keep working with it. Who knows, you may be able to make a career out of it. For me, the talent I possess is dancing, and I’ve decided to take it to the next level and pursue the dreams that I’ve had since I was just six-years old.

Honestly, I’ve never thought this would be something I’d be doing in terms of an actual career.  At first, I perceived my talent as something I was good at; however, once my mom told me that I’ve always loved to dance practically since I was a toddler, I knew that this was a passion of mine and I started to work harder  to get better at it.

“You’ve always been that way,” my mom said. “For a very long time you’ve always loved to dance and everyone enjoyed watching you. I believe you can be somebody with such a gift.”

I’d say that I started putting work in right around the age of thirteen. At that time, I wasn’t as good as what I’d call myself now, but I still had the ambition to keep working to become one of the greats one day. From that point on, while focusing on school at the same time, I’ve spent the majority of my leisure time practicing the more “technical” aspects of dance.

At this time, I considered my style to be different from others. I didn’t want to be just like anyone else, but you have to remember I was still very young and learning, so though that was my perception of things, reality needed to hit me in order for me to get better. About two years later at age fifteen, that’s exactly what happened.

From music videos to choreography tutorials, I’ve constantly tried to master moves that I was uncomfortable with. Even my mom, at one point, suggested videos that she saw.

Though I know there is some controversy in terms of what this person has done, Chris Brown, in terms of dancing, has been one of my biggest idols. Watching all of his videos and trying to learn a lot of his choreography associated with his music, I’ve set a clear standard for myself, and I decided to take things to a new level.

Through the years my mom has always told me that you can’t just have one aspect of dance mastered.

“If you want to be a real dancer,” my mom said. “You must learn every genre of dance. Not just hip hop.”

At that point, I realized that my mom was right. I needed more than just hip hop. This is why I decided to take Modern/Jazz Dance Studio, an EFA at Loy Norrix my sophomore year, to expand my skill set and be more versatile.

My first trimester wasn’t the best. I was one of three boys in a class of about fifteen students learning things that I was completely uncomfortable with. It even got to a point where I was frustrated because I didn’t know anything about modern or jazz. However, as time went by, jazz may not have been my thing, but modern was most definitely something I learned significantly quickly. Now it’s something I feel I could even add to my own style.

My instructor at the time, Traci Soule, saw the potential that I possessed. She was very impressed with what I had to offer that she was willing to give me the opportunity to have a solo performance at the concert toward the end of the first trimester. I was very excited about this opportunity, and I took the time to make sure it was perfect.

During this time, it was the first time I performed in front of a major crowd of over fifty people, so I was nervous; however, over time throughout the second and third trimester, being on stage in front of such a large number of people was virtually nothing to me. I just go on stage and put on a show.

After my sophomore year, I had a lot of eyes looking in my direction. A guest dancer from Western Michigan University, Brooklyn Washington, came to my class during the third trimester and taught the class one of her dances to the hit song many know: “Suge” by DaBaby. After the session, Washington saw the “gift,” as she described it, that I had and offered to work with me at the Boys & Girls Club for a performance at Bronson Park.

“You have a gift, Damarion,” Washington said. “You can really go somewhere with what you have. I am interested in working with you personally and coming up with our own choreography to perform at Bronson Park.”

With that news, I basically bloomed from there. Knowing that I have a big show to put on for the community was a huge deal for me. It was all like a dream for me. Never have I ever thought of the day that I’d be doing the things I’m doing today, and it’s only the beginning.

Those who know me, I’m widely known for my dancing. Now, performing is like second nature to me. Whatever the crowd size, big or small, I go out there and I do what I have to do in order to leave the audience with a show they’ll never forget. One goal I’ve always had was to, one day, open my own dance studio, and, with progress, it might come sooner than expected.

Today I am currently focusing on the intermediate class I’m in now. I’m on a mission and with the right mindset, I know I can accomplish my dream. The same can be for anyone with a hidden talent that they possess. Hard work pays off and with the time and effort put in, you can accomplish virtually anything.