Alaska draws a myriad of talented people from around the world that has broadened the culture of our young homestead, fishing, resource extraction based community. When thinking of moving to Alaska Ballet dancers or “Hip Hop Heads” are probably not the first image that comes to mind. But like gold nuggets they are to be found right here on the Kenai Peninsula. The career path for a Hawaiian Hip-Hop Head with a passion for dance didn’t lead to New York, Chicago or San Francisco, but rather to Soldotna, Alaska where “Mr. Jessie” is a popular Hip Hop instructor. “A very special person gave me a shot to teach here and I decided to take that one year course and I’ve been here for the last seven years, formerly with Vergine’s Dance Studio and now with Forever Dance Alaska. I’m raising my three girls here now and two of them dance for the studio. The diversity of Hip Hop intrigued me as a kid. It was something that was not as structured as ballet and yet you had to have your own style and originality. I live by the code originality will always prevail, so Hip Hop gave me the path to follow and succeed in life. Hip Hop is very exciting and once you get into it you can be whatever you want to be, not just a ballerina telling a sad or happy story, you can portrait many characters. Hip Hop lets you express who you are and what you feel at that moment in time and I’ve found that it relates too many of our local youth in this community.”
Jessie has been an instructor since the age of 17. As a true “Hip-Hop Head”, he understands how important it is for training to persist through time and dedication in his career…and knowing that “Your students are only as good as their teacher”. He continues to pursue his dance and choreography training by traveling to the West Coast to study at the prestigious “Culture Shock Dance Center” in San Diego; home of the Jabbawockeez and the highly acclaimed Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Los Angeles. He has also worked under principle dancers and choreographers for Britney Spears, Pink, Destiny’s Child, J. Lo, Madonna, ‘N Sync, Janet Jackson, Rhianna and Chris Brown. He has garnered top regional and national awards in various competitions. His years of dedication towards defining his own style of hip-hop has earned him numerous awards including: First Place awards, Judge’s Choice, Director’s Choice, Special Categorical, Entertainment, Over-all, Choreography and the most coveted award in his field, the Hip-Hop Choreographers Award. You can see the results of the Hawaiian Hip Hop Head Hot Homesteader dancers at the Forever Dance Alaska production of “The Traveler” coming Valentine’s Weekend to the KCHS Renee C. Henderson Auditorium.