Columbus Makes Art Presents: Xclaim Veteran Dancer & Choreographer J. Shannon Filmore on the Company’s 13th Season & Collaboration
J. Shannon Filmore is a dancer, choreographer, instructor and veteran member of Xclaim Dance Company. He’s a Columbus native and co-founder of Tru Kingdom Mega Dance Crew, who found his true passion for dance within the Columbus arts scene. Whether Shannon is working on a new piece for his 13th season with Xclaim, or planning an event for his crew, Shannon lives and breathes dance. Shannon will take part in Xclaim’s upcoming dance projects Masterpiece and Building Bridges, and recently sat down with resume writer and high school friend, Marissa Anderson, to discuss year 13 with Xclaim, collaborations and life as a creative.
Marissa: Shannon, you’ve worked with Xclaim for over 13 years as a choreographer and dancer. What are your favorite projects with the company, and what makes them stand out?
J. Shannon: Soul of the City was the second show I had the opportunity to incorporate my own style along with Director Mariah Layne French. It felt like a “homecoming” of sorts, I knew this stage was my new home. Fanciful Danciful, we collaborated with Iron City Circus Arts and infused aerial dancers, as well as Dr. Seuss depictions. Lastly, Light, Sound, Brainwaves, I was able to invite my own crew, Tru Kingdom, as a feature to the performance. You could feel the energy in the room during the performance, an unforgettable experience.
Marissa: What inspires your creative process?
J. Shannon: My emotions are the driving force behind my work. I believe that having an emotional connection to the work you create Is the most important piece of the process. I am very in touch with my emotions, and it shows within my work.
Marissa: You often collaborate with Director Mariah Layne French in creating work. What does that process look like?
J. Shannon: Mariah and I have a great working relationship. I’ve never met a director that is so open and honest. We have plenty of conversations. We instantly connected when I first tried out for Xclaim. I heard her teaching the movement in rhythmic words – “boom” “cat” – and I realized we spoke the same language. We’ve worked together for so long, we know each other’s movements before execution.
Marissa: Xclaim is recognized for its innovative dance projects. What is on the docket for this season and what role will you play?
J. Shannon: Xclaim is working on a unique film and performance project this fall, Masterpiece. Mariah and I are co-directing this joint project and incorporating dancers from both Xclaim and TK. The film will feature a local visual artist and instrumentalist. Considering how life as we know it changed in 2020, we are discovering new ways to create this year. I will also choreograph and dance in a second film project and our spring show in 2021.
Marissa: You co-founded Tru Kingdom Mega Dance Crew. What was your motive for starting this group?
J. Shannon: We noticed a gap in the adult dance community. We formed out of the necessity to feel heard and to create a home for those in our community, focused primarily on hip hop while incorporating other styles. We seek opportunities for performance, self-expression and outreach back into our communities.
Marissa: What is the best thing about the Columbus arts scene right now?
J. Shannon: I love how everyone is collaborating more than I‘ve witnessed in previous years. COVID-19 hit our community hard because of how we express our art, many creatives sought more unity than division this year.
Marissa: When you are not dancing what are you up to?
J. Shannon: If I am not dancing, I am usually listening to music, playing video games, or cooking at home.
Catch J. Shannon Filmore and Xclaim Dance Company in their upcoming dance projects Masterpiece on Oct. 25 and Building Bridges slated for early November. Stay tuned for their spring project Spirituals II. For more information please visit xclaimarts.org/performance.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.