Jessica Phoenix brings new meaning to Alicia Key’s lyrics This Girl Is On Fire. The DMV native is a dance instructor and choreographer that boasts an impressive résumé working with the likes of K’Naan, Verse Simmonds, and the Swagger Crew from America’s Got Talent. She has toured with the MJ Tribute show “King Michael” and the UniverSoul Circus. This girl has ignited the hearts of Atlanta’s reggae scene and now prepares to wow the Big City of New York with her empire state of mind and liberating dance flow. Her goal is to one day direct a dance company or studio and has pledged to take her talent around the globe. Jessica’s professionalism keeps developing her craft and growing her network of dancers, fans, and followers. Miss Phoenix’s passion radiates the moment she steps onto a stage or into a room. It has been a pleasure being one of her students and I truly look at her as an excellent role model for young girls and ambassador of dance hall choreography.
As she prepared to embark upon her move from Atlanta to New York, Phoenix Fiyah took a moment to share her experiences with Moments of a Black Queen.
1. How long have you been dancing and tell us about your dance resume?
My dance training began when I was about 7 years old and I haven’t stopped since. Now at 28, my dance career is extensive, full of diverse moments. It’s hard to put me in one box just because of my background and experience. My training includes many styles: ballet, jazz and hip-hop. I branched off for some years into a semi-professional tap dance company, then continued to train and develop skills in lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, Caribbean and African dance throughout high school and college. That’s when my more professional career began. I performed with R&B Artist Monica and international artist Rachel Panay. I traveled to Japan for a school festival and also did a variety of hair shows, dance festivals, and theater productions. In midst of the climb to becoming a real dancer, my last year in college I was in a major car accident that left me with a shattered pelvis and a broken jaw. All blessings up, I was favored! It took one full year for rehabilitation but I soon recovered. I finished school and received my degree. It was then I decided it was now or never to fulfill my dreams as a dancer. I knew I wanted to dance professionally for the rest of my life, so I moved to Atlanta to pursue my dream. Despite the ups and downs, I have never worked a day job since and I get to do what I love every day. For seven years I have taught dance at different studios throughout Atlanta and traveled around the states to share my gift.
2.What is your favorite theme of music to dance to?
Hard to say what my favorite type of music is to dance to. Honestly, whatever is playing- hip-hop, soca, dancehall, rock, or house. I don’t consider myself any particular type of dancer I just move to good music, whatever it may be.
I do enjoy teaching certain types of music better when I have a unique group to cater to. But, I would say living in Atlanta, Georgia for 5 years has worn me out with the whole ratchet movement *laughs*. One can only take so much of down south hood music.
3.Tell us about your female dance group Fiyah Squad?
My Fiyah Squad…I truly love those ladies. The dance group began as an idea that I had and so many of my students and other dance friends encouraged me to put a team together. Once I got involved in the Dancehall scene in Atlanta, I saw the potential for a diverse group of female dancers. I wanted this group of Atlanta’s female talent to introduce Dancehall in a way that was not only marketable but understandable to the mainstream scene. I had a clear vision and positive vibes was a central objective. I knew nothing could be accomplished with negativity. I began to look for potential candidates in Dancehall queen competitions, classes I taught, Dancehall parties, and at the dance studio. I planned out and thought through every detail ensuring each lady truly embodied the fiyah lady spirit.
And thus the Fiyah squad was born: DOMI FIYAH, PARRIS FIYAH and PRISSY FIYAH. We later expanded and now welcome two additional members WYLD FIYAH and LOVEY FIYAH. I, PHOENIX FIYAH the leader and choreographer for the group, play a major role as “Mama Fiyah” treating the Fiyah Squad with the same energy and focus I have had for my own dance career.
We have performed with Hotlanta Salsa Congress, featured in Artist Khago’s Pretty Wine video, and booked to perform as special guest dancers for out of town parties and events.
4. What are your upcoming projects in Atlanta and future aspirations in NY?
I just want to continue spreading the passion I have for dance with people who are passionate about my art. I want to continue to work as a dancer, choreographer, and instructor for a very long time. What is most important is unity, energy, expression, and innovation. I will continue to provide opportunities for myself and the Fiyah Squad through dancehall or other styles.
Dancehall Mondays had a long run at Gotta Dance Atlanta and I enjoyed the last instruction by Jessica before her big move to New York. Special thanks to DJ Yanks and former Atlanta Dancehall King Detta for setting the mood and music up properly. The atmosphere was cosmic and full of fiyah as every lady in the room exhibited their passion for dance and island music. Check out the next two videos Part One & Part Two of the final class.
1Love & Fiyah!