The King family welcomes alumna Erika Stowall as the new dance teacher this school year. Stowall has been dancing since the age of 4 and owns her own dance company, Big Red Wall Dance. Even though this is her first year with the district, she has been teaching dance for 11 years and comes with a lot of experience.
“The students at my old school, Detroit Academy of Arts and Science, were able to travel to New York and perform for Good Morning America,” Stowall said. “We also performed for the Lions and also Thanksgiving parade.”
Stowall said she wants King’s dancers to develop life skills through the art of dance and become knowledgeable people.
“I really want to make sure that there are more performances outside the school setting, and they are traveling more doing competitions and international performances,” Stowall said. “I want to make smart dancers. I want to make students that use their skills in other forms and other disciplines and other careers. What I hope the arts create is students that are well rounded and well versed in many other art forms.”
Stowall said she wants to improve the dancers’ techniques, their performance quality, and get them more exposure to dancing outside of school.
“She is a very good teacher,” senior Montia Sanford said about Stowall. “She has been teaching us different techniques like leg and arm movements. Also, we have been learning parts of an African dance.”
Former dance teacher Denise Allen was the instructor at King for 11 years. At the end of last school year, she received a promotion as an administrator at another school. This move left Allen’s dance students with uncertainty about the dance program.
“The transition has been good,” junior Melanie Davis said. “I’ve stayed consistent and give my all to the program even though the previous teacher left. I just enjoy dancing regardless of the teacher.”
Stowall has performed various styles of dancing: African, Caribbean, jazz, tap, ballet, and modern. She has won choreographer of the year more than once and won Kresge Artist Fellowship which awarded $25,000. In 2016, her dance choreography earned her an Applebaum Emerging Artist in Residence at Ponyride. During the same year, she was the only dance educator affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education Group Project Abroad in Brazil.
“I want to have more conversations with women about other areas where they feel unprotected and take those images and ideas and try to change them and morph them into something empowering,” Stowall said.