Have you ever noticed how a young child starts to dance when exposed to rhythmic music? It seems like the most natural thing to do.
Local dance instructor Kea Tesseyman is helping kids tap into their natural rhythms through the medium of hip hop dance and her business, Kinetic Energy Alive!
Kea has always felt that she is at home when she is dancing. As a young girl, whenever she felt out of place or was going through a difficult time at school, she came home and danced her way back to feeling safe and whole. From an early age, Kea experienced the healing power of movement to music.
It wasn’t until high school, when Kea joined with a group of other local girls (and a few boys) who were turned on to contemporary dance by Annie Laurita, that dancing as performance became Kea’s passion. This was a very exciting time for all the kids that Annie taught. Annie brought big-city moves and a love of hip hop style dance to our little community, and she touched the lives of many young people.
Kea wanted to dance with Annie’s group but had difficulty affording the lessons. Annie helped her by letting her work in exchange for her lessons. At some point it became clear that, not only was Kea a talented dancer, but she also had a gift for choreography. She did some substitute teaching for Annie. This was when Kea had an “aha” moment: “This is what I was meant to do!” She discovered that she loved teaching dance to kids.
After high school Kea continued to teach at the YMCA for a time. Feeling compelled to get more advanced training, she embarked on learning more about hip hop performance both in Portland and Boston, where she danced with some of the originators of the art form.
After teaching for the Rockport Dance Conservatory for a few years, Kea decided that she wanted to start her own business. “I loved putting on the shows, I loved the kids, and I felt like I had a vision,” she said.
Kea readily admits that she has made some mistakes along the way. Yet it is obvious, when talking to this young woman, that her self-determination and passion for what she does have helped her come back stronger after every setback. “My own personal struggles help me to relate to teens who are going through some of their own difficulties,” she said. “I try to help them understand that obstacles can be opportunities.”
Kea is the proud mother of a seven-year-old boy. She is finishing massage school, and she teaches snowboarding in winter and stand up paddleboarding in the summerthrough Thorfinn Expeditions. In addition to teaching dance, she continues to perform locally and in Portland and Boston. She hopes to use her massage training to help the increasing number of kids who are dealing with sports injuries at an early age.
Giving back to the community through volunteer work is important to Kea. She recently taught a dance to a group of students from the Community School in Camden, which they performed at “Dancing With the Local Stars,” a fund-raiser for the school. It was a big hit. “The kids started out saying how they hated to dance, and by performance night they all were saying how much they loved it,” Kea said.
The past few years have been a frightening yet energizing time for Kea. “When you are in a hip hop battle, you learn to take fear and use it to create a great dance, “ said Kea. “I am creating a life being true myself and who I am. I hope to instill humility, respect and self-love in all the kids that come to dance with me, and to help them to realize that each and every one of them is a huge, beautiful, shining star.”
So remember, when you are thinking of ways to get yourself or your children moving, why not take a dance class, or just turn on the music and dance? It is great exercise, and it comes naturally.
Donna Ames, RN, coordinates Zing! — a program of Pen Bay Healthcare and its community partners designed to encourage children to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits. Online: pbmc.org/zing.