Dance Life Family in Rockford
Dee (Deryl Thomas) is the creator and president of Dance Life: city of Rockford. Besides having happy feet, Dee has “poetic feet” as well! Professional dancer and poet, with a fantastic charisma and great attitude Dee naturally makes people feel good, laugh, and rediscover their own souls while dancing.
Learn below how you can (and why you should!) enjoy what Dee is adding to the Rockford community. His story, his artistic passion, and fun dance classes for all.
RT: Dee, would you please briefly tell us that beautiful story about your mother saying that you were already dancing in her womb? Is that how your passion for dancing started?
Dee: My mom was an awesome dancer and so much more! She is truly my hero! She would tell me I got all my moves from her because she used to dance and flip with me while I was still in her belly! (giggle) She had this incredible whole body vibrating dance moves that I can’t do even if I tried! My mom is the best and I say “is”, even though she passed away from the physical plane two years ago, because I keep her spirit with me and any time I need to talk to her I can, and I do!
Dancing has always been in me since I can remember. I actually won my first dance contest in preschool at New Zion Day Care! I remember picking Michael Jackson’s song “I Wanna Rock With You” and winning! I won a choice between an orange or grape Crush can of pop! I chose grape! (giggles). I felt great ’till the teacher told all the girls to come after me as if I were a star on stage,
and they bum rushed me and tore up my favorite Sesame Street shirt… I was crying and my mom came in to pick me up and asked me what was wrong. She said to me, “It’s okay baby! I love you and I heard you won the dance contest! I am so proud of you!” And I’ve been dancing ever since!
Dee has been a professional dance instructor since he was 17 years young (over 22 years ago). He started off as the Lead Choreographer for the band Mission Play in Rockford in the early to mid 90’s. He was also Freddy Flash, the mascot of the Rockford Lightning in 1995 and 1996. Then he moved on to Orlando, FL to network and pursue new action in his writing, his own music, and Hip Hop emceeing, which has inspired him even further and he’s now working on a rhyming poetry book called Word’s Embrace.
Since he’s been back to Rockford he has created a whole new life for himself – dancing! After working for a few fitness clubs like GL Dance Studio, Maximum Performance Gym, Fight College, The Rock Swim & Fitness, Dee is now solo and advancing faster with his talent and unique style. He and Shannon, his dance and life partner, are doing a fantastic work in bringing Dance Life Family to its heights!
RT: Dee, would you tell us about Dance Life Family, how that idea was born, and how you see the growth of DLF?
Dee: Dance Life Fam was created by me and my fiance Shannon Love who is my soul mate and dance partner, as well. We are both amazed and so very thankful for how fast everything took off. We created DLF out of our passions for what we do. I teach dance and she’s an awesome photographer. As partners in perfect sync, we also switch roles at times. She holds her own on the dance floor pretty nicely and brings the feminine power to our dance routines. I know other women enjoy her being up front with me to see the softer side to some of the dances that we do. We also love making up line dance routines together and then teaching them in class.
I can also say that my past experiences with other teaching situations and other instructors as well, helped me to shape the idea of a DANCE FAMILY. I have created more than just a club or a fitness atmosphere, DFL is a fun and friendly gathering for your whole family. It’s for young and seniors, singles and couples, boys and girls, fast- or slow-paced dancers. It’s for teachers, nurses, fitness junkies, artists, housewives, lawyers, mothers and children… You can even bring Grandma! She’ll love it!
RT: Dee, what motivates you the most to go to the studio and teach dance?
Dee: We get motivated to go to the studio hours before class because we love it so much and we especially love the people in class who make DLF what it is!
RT: What was one great experience in your career since you started?
Dee: My best experience was the celebration of a magical moment in my life. This magical moment, shared later on the dance floor with my Dance Life Family and Friends, was my engagement to Shannon. What was already a blessing became amplified by the love and support from my Dance Life Fam.
RT: What was the most important lesson you have learned, since you became a dance instructor?
Dee: If you have something you love to do… do it! I worked so many pointless jobs to pay rent and bills, and then I realized I have CHOICES! So I CHOSE the things I KNOW I am MEANT to do in life, and I do those now. The money, or physical currency, will come, because I’m investing spiritual currency – which is faith and love, in all my deeds!
RT: In one or two words, what’s your personal definition of:
Hip-Hop = ME
Salsa = SEXY
Samba = ZUMBA
Cha-cha = Bruce Lee The Cha Cha King Of Hon Kong
Soul Line dance = DANCE LIFE FAM
Rock = JOHN COUGAR MELLENCAMP
Zumba = My friend Theresa Bielefeldt & Her Zumba Mas Crew Support For Dance Life Fam.
RT: Would you add some other style?
Dee: Yes! I have created my own dance style called “FreeStyleFlex” which is a mix of martial arts, gymnastics, and flexible hip hop dance movements.
RT: Which style do you incorporate the most in your classes?
Dee: I like all kinds of music and genres from hip hop to Latin, rock & roll, you name it. My mix classes consist of all popular music on the radio and internet, most well-known artists like Chris Brown, Maroon 5, Missy Elliot, Iggy Azalea, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and many others!
RT: Now, to wrap up this quick interview, what about an impromptu? Would you treat us with a little poem about Dance & Life?
Dee: Sure! Here it is:
Life is a dance
& dance is life
of Godly light
from body to spirit
& minds alike
you should come dance
with DLF tonight!
Dancing increases people’s self-confidence, self-esteem, enhances the mood, keeps the blood and vital energy flowing, strengthens the muscles, improves the range of motion and, as a result makes people healthier and happier!
Dee has recently started a new dance class for teachers at Spring Creek Elementary School. He is currently offering a mix of rhythms in his classes, such as Latin, hip-hop, and soul line dance.
Dance Life Family is also temporarily meeting at Studio Z, 4010 E.State Street 61107, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 6pm. It’s “Five For Fun” – $5.00 per class, no commitment, no membership. Just drop in and have some fun!
Learn more and be a living part of this joyful cultural aspect of Rockford! Check out Dance Life:City of Rockford on Facebook for updates and happy photos. “Like” the page, join the Dance Life Family! You will be glad you have read this article and met such a beautiful group of dancing souls!
We’ll meet you on the dance floor!