Dancer, choreographer finds joy in teaching

Submitted photo Dancer, choreographer and instructor Joseph “Godsent” James during a toddler dance class

Following footsteps

The journey of Joseph “Godsent” James began in 2003 when he took a leap of faith in high school musical theatre. The program provided an opportunity for him to perform his stellar tap and jazz skills. 

James currently specializes in “funk styles, locking and popping,” he said. His experience in dance also includes ballroom, Latin style, hip hop, breakdancing, and New Jack Swing.

Although he values, appreciates and enjoys various genres of dance, he said his favorite style is tap. “Tap dancing is what I started with and it’s most connected to music … tap shoes create the sounds and it’s one of the most impressive styles of dance.”

Tap dance requires great energy, focus, and dedication, which is magnified by Joseph James’s performances on stage as well as an instructor in his classes. 

James recently waltzed into the role of choreographer/dance instructor at House of Dance studio located in Hopkins. He joined the dance studio because “the staff is an incredible group of people,” said James. “They challenge me to continue to get better, and the community they bring in is really great to work with.” He has been apart of the family for several years but recently became an instructor for almost a year now.

The House of Dance Twin Cities is owned and operated by dedicated individuals Jake and Bao Lee. James said the owners value work ethic and focus on offering a plethora of high-quality dance classes. 

The Hip Dance Class for Tots hosted by James is engaging, upbeat and showcase an impressive fusion of hip hop, jazz, popping and locking. James strives to make every class an enjoyable, welcoming, inclusive and memorable experience. Parents watch the dance class from a monitor in the back room. Once in a while, a parent will come out of the room to assist, ensuring their child is on task. 

The class helps the future dancers and choreographers get introduced to the basics of hip hop and jazz. His classes help youth build confidence and focus on having fun while learning. James is a patient, energetic instructor, full of life while teaching maneuvers to the toddlers. Parents said James is a great teacher overall. The joyous input and smiles of the students seconded the sentiment.

James also shared some key advice for youth who aspire to become future dance instructors: “The biggest advice is learning about the foundation of dance because that will give you insight…an understanding on how to grow from that.” 

James’ success derives from an impeccable work ethic. He gets up at 5:30 a.m. every morning to prepare for the day. At times his day does not end until the late hours of the evening. His passion for dance fuels his dreams and he’s motivated by his two children. “My children, watching them dance in the kitchen, studio, makes me want to keep practicing and get better.” 

Along with dance lessons, James’ class carries the message that the dancer, the human, must not tiptoe into dreams lightly, but rather pursue them fearlessly. 

James will also offer dance classes for the youth at St. Paul Conservatory of the Arts, which started in August and goes until September. Staying busy into the fall, James will be a part of the performance titled Rooted at the Ordway Theater, serving as hip hop choreographer for the Oct. 25 show. 

Current toddler dance classes taught by James at House of Dance are Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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