A woman fills the room with energy and charisma with simply being in it. Kumari Suraj is someone kind, funny and professional, a class with her is learning style, attitude and above all enjoy every second dancing. She has was a So You Think You Can Dance US Choreographer, Mya and Jody Watley and she is currently one of the most important choreographers and teachers in the field of waacking and voguing. But her creativity is not just in the world of dance, music and fashion are also part of their creative work. Kumari Suraj is a creative hurricane to learn every second spent with her.
1. What made you love dancing? What did you want when you was little? Did you imagine you’d be here someday?
The 1983 movie Flashdance made me wanna dance! I actually wanted to be Jeniffer Beals in the film. All I wanted to do when I was lilttle was dance, perform and be a bright star. I don’t even know where here is. lol For me I still have goals to accomplish. I have this terrible habit of stopping to appreciate the things I’ve done before moving on to the next goal. I’m learning to slow down and see how far I’ve come. So to answer your question. No I never imaged I would be Kumari Suraj.
2. Why Waacking and not another dance style? What do you feel when you dance, what makes the dance so special to you? Are you imagined you become a worldwide reference in Waacking?
I actually started with Ballet when I was 3 years old. Moved to HipHop when I was 9 years old. Toured with a dance group performing until I was 17 old. Then broke out into the underground world in search of more movement. Fell into Bboying, Popping & Locking at 17/18 old . Then found house, waacking and vogue when I moved to the east coast to attend fashion design school when I was 19/20 years old. Along the way I picked up West African, South African, Dancehall and Salsa. Waacking was the last dance style I ever learned. I’m an all styles dancer but I found my voice and my place in history through waacking.
When I dance I feel free. That was my motivation to learn so many dance styles. Whatever the music told me to do I wanted to be able to do effortlessly with strength and freedom. I wanted to “feel” music through my body. I wanted to be the physical manifestation of music.
I always wanted to find my place in history. My contribution to the world, life and the inspiration of other people. But, I NEVER thought it would be through waacking. I feel honored and humbled to be where I am. It blows my mind when I stop to think about it. I honestly can’t believe what I’ve done thus far.
3. Hitherto, what is the best thing dance has given to you? What’s do you left to accomplish?
The best thing dance ever gave to me was a voice that is loud, strong and free. Dance gave me the most incredible life I could have ever asked for.
I have so much I want to do still. This year I want to Choreography for K-Pop artists in Korea and Bollywood films in India. I want to have my own clothing line in the future. I also want to be a main charater in a Quentin Tarantino film! After that who knows. I’m sure I will see something else I think would be fun to do. I just want to have fun and enjoy every blessing, every experience and ever creative project I’m given.
4. Who is Frankie Douglas? Why did you choose that name? What does it mean to you?
Frankie Douglas is my alter ego. I was always a “tom boy” growing up. Many friends told me I acted like a boy or danced like a boy and gave me boy nicknames. Frankie was one of those nicknames and so was Douglas. It’s a reflection of the waacking style I created that mixes hiphop, house, dancehall and all my other tom boy type styles into my waacking arms. Those lower body movements are the groove of the Frankie Douglas style.
6. Through dance you met important people. Who have marked a before and after in your life? Was anyone disappointed you?
So many people marked my life through dance. When I was 18, meeting the originators of HipHop dance, The Mop Tops (buddha stretch, Link, Caleaf, etc). Taught me where hiphop, the dance I loved came from and it’s intention. Having Archie Burnett as one of my first Waacking/Vogue teachers open my eyes to the structure of teaching a vibrant class. Dance has led me to meet government leaders, radio personalities, recording artists and numerous amount of inspiring people at large.
One of the best dance figures I’ve met to date are Viktor Manoel & Dallace Zieglar, Original Punk & OG Waack dancers from the 70s. They were the first of the older generation who didn’t have a chip on their shoulder, wasn’t out to beat up and bully the younger generations with their bitter negativity and didn’t have a bias opinion of the younger generations. They welcomed all of us to their dance with open arms, love and respect. They became loving father/mother /mentor/teachers to us all. They gave me hope that there were positive members of the 70s/80s generations of waacker/punkers that weren’t angry and hurtful toward the younger ones, who just loved the dance. They were elders without a negative agenda. Viktor was the second OG I could trust in this Waack/Punk culture. Before him was Dallace Zieglar. She came into my life out of nowhere. She was the first female Waacker to be a shining example of womanhood grace and elegance in the Waacking community. She was also like my dance mom. Supportive, Loving, crazy and wonderfully giving. She brought life back into the community. She will be missed the most as she passed away from breast cancer a few weeks.
7. What is the best thing to give dance lessons? What do you feel when you are able to convey an emotion and technique to your students?
It is completely, 100% satisfaction when I can see a student open into a new realization of self worth, freedom and confidence after taking my class. It makes my life feel rich and full to know that I can inspire and effect chance in another human being through the simple art of dance.
8. Why did you decide to study fashion? What that means fashion for you?
Fashion and Dance were the first artistic loves of my life. I chose to continue developing dance while I was young and always felt I could come back to fashion. But, fashion never left me. I incorporate it into my dance all the time. Being a Waacker I can dress as wild or creative as I want! Fashion is my artistic freedom of expression! DALE!
9. Is there someone who inspires you? What are your influences and your favorite artists?
Music, Culture, Films and Art are my biggest inspirations. (70s)Grace Jones, (70s)Cher, Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe, Jennifer Beals. My Indian Culture, My Trinidadian Culture, my native American culture and other people’s cultures. Foreign films. My mom!! She has inspired my entire life! She was a disco diva back in the day and still a diva now!
10. What advice would you give to someone who is studying dance now?
Train in every style of dance you possibly can. Especially the ones you are NOT very good at. It is important to learn as much vocabulary through the study of various styles. If you want to later be a choreographer or really good freestyle dancer you have to train train train in many styles of dance. Classical, cultural, street, etc. All dance is beautiful and a wonderfully exciting journey to take. I’m still a student! I’ve learned, Ballet, Locking, Popping, Hiphop, House, Commercial Choreo, Salsa, Dancehall, African, Latin Styles and more… Now I want to learn Flamenco. It’s a journey and I want to dance for the rest of my life for the fun of the journey.
11. What made you enter into the world of music? Would you like to work to it or is it just a hobby anymore?
My whole family is involved with music. I have an Uncle who is a famous producer and a cousin who is a famous DJ. Everyone in smy family makes music. My father used to have a recording studio in our house when I was a kid. I was born into music which is why I dance. Now I want to make music. I love to create and share my thoughts and feelings. Music allows me to do that. I would love to tour the world with my music and inspire others to follow their dreams.12. Have you ever wanted to give up? Or too love what you do to raise it?
13. Finally, anything you’d like to tell the world, you need to say something
For any students, teachers, artists and creative people who read this article I just want to say… Love who you are as an individual. We are all create as special individuals that bring value and purpose to this world through our existence. Keep creating, keep pushing, keep living life the way you want to live it. Keep expressing yourself freely and keep loving completely!! The world would not be the same if you didn’t bring your light to it.