ARTE NOIR EDITORIAL

KISHA VAUGHAN IS DOPE GIRL MOVEMENT

Kisha Vaughan wants everyone to know that YOU deserve to feel joy, strength, passion, and power. Kisha is a force. And she practices what she preaches by sharing her own joy, strength, passion, and power with the community through DANCE.


For the past 18 years, Kisha has been dancing in and around Seattle as part of various dance crews including Breaking Point Dance Company, In Effect Hip Hop, Purple Lemonade, Seattle Storm Hip Hop Squad, and backup dancer for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. She has performed on stages in some extremely iconic locations including Showtime at the Apollo, MTV Movie Awards, Billboard Awards, & Rolling Stone Magazine while staying grounded working as the creative director and choreographer for Emerald City Elite, Poison Poppies, Garfield High School Puppettes, and Dope Girl Movement. In addition, she has served as a teaching artist at Westlake Dance Center, Cornish College of the Arts, Arts Corps, Interagency Academy, and Coyote Central. Kisha can currently be found teaching on the online platform Just Move as well as teaching hip hop and choreography out of West Seattle, WA.


Dancer. Teacher. Mother. Partner. Badass. And Style Goals... We are so grateful Kisha took the time in the midst of this hectic holiday season to share her evolution as a creative movement artist, what it means to be "in community," and where you can currently find her if you have a hankering to shake your booty. Please enjoy meeting Dope Girl Movement's Kisha Vaughan!



Who is Kisha Vaughan? Share a bit of your personal background and how it led you to your current occupation?

I like to think of myself as a mover and a shaker. I love the physical part of the creative experience of all visuals. I worked in the music industry for a long time, and that really deepened my already huge love for music. I taught fitness in college as well. So creating movement and patterns became a big part of my expression. The music industry started to shift, and I felt like I couldn't see myself pivoting along with it. I figured I could make my ends "somewhat" meet teaching dance full time. So, I took that leap of faith to just commit fully to my movement.

Image credit LeLeita McKILL

Expanding on the first question, where does your love of dance come from and when did you know it was going to be an important part of your life?


I grew up playing sports, and secretly dancing. Watching music videos and trying to pick up the choreography. Making up my own dances. Fantasizing about being a real dancer. I could walk to and from basketball practice, but there were no studio options for dance around where I lived or went to school. So it was something I just did by myself or with my sisters and friends. I became friends with someone in my twenties who was a dancer and convinced me to take my first class. It was humbling, to say the least. But it was love. I look at that time and think how many things in our lives we think if it's not now, then it's probably never. But maybe if I was in performance opportunities at a young age, I might have burned out. The time to be a performer chose me when it was supposed to.





When did you first feel comfortable calling yourself an artist/creator?

Once I decided to just be myself. Once I decided that I didn't want to compete with others for my personal validation. It took a while to arrive here.

What does it mean to you to "be in community?" Why is being involved with the community so important to you as a dancer and an artist?

To be in community to me means to represent the best of who we are. To move in ways to impact the positive evolution of everything and everyone around us. When we are able to make art that represents all of the parts of our whole, when we can create opportunities to see others win, to see others shine.

Who are some of the artists and dancers in Seattle that inspire you? What else inspires you?

WHIMM WHIMM makes me melt! Seeing live music! Walking really inspires me. Sometimes I need just enough movement to get my body involved, but not too much that my mind can't see the big picture.

Tell us about Dope Girl Movement. What type of dance and movement endeavors are you currently involved in and where are all the places people can connect with you if they want to join the fun?

Dope Girl Movement is the frame of mind that I find myself in when I really want to be unapologetic for everything that just turns me on. To wear the clothes, to sip the tea out of the cup that gives me the feels. Dope Girl is about surrounding yourself with others who are just in the mood to be fun, to be inspired, to be extra. My goal is to get back on to a regular schedule with live classes. Life is obviously really unpredictable right now. And when I teach I want it how I want it. I love seeing faces and sharing spaces. My nasty class Booties and Bottles will be making a return in 2022. It's a happy hour with hip hop. It's grown and sexy, and we all deserve to feel that way. I am also teaching on the online platform Just Move. It has plenty of movement options there. I provide the dance. Whether you are just starting out or want more of a challenge, there is something for you.

On your website Dope Girl Movement, you invite people to “Step into your power” – what does that mean to you (for others)? How do you feel when you are stepping into your own power?

There have been plenty of times in my past movement experience where someone made me feel like I was too old, too tall, too black, too bold. And f*ck I'll be damned if I let anyone or anything make me feel like I don't deserve to feel strong and worthy. If I can do the next 43 years of my life truly believing that I still have potential to live up to. That there are more opportunities and adventures. That the depth of my creativity and experiences is endless. Man, that makes me feel some type of way. That makes me excited. That makes me feel limitless. Dope Girl is the reminder that you deserve to feel joy, and strength, and passion, and power.

Learn more about Kisha on her website Dope Girl Movement


Image credit Mike Folden