Famed dancer/choreographer offers industry and fitness tips


Tarzan is one of the more accomplished dancers/choreographers working today. Based in New York City, Tarzan has taken the stage with luminaries such as Grace Jones and Madonna, performing everywhere from Afropunk in Brooklyn to the Rebel Hearts Tour. He offered some words of wisdom for guys looking to break into the world of dance and choreography, sharing what he's learned throughout his career.

"Make sure that you research your business," says Tarzan. "It’s fun and amazing to travel and work with different people doing different gigs, but you want to make sure that this is the industry that’s for you and it will fit your lifestyle. It’s a business first, most people only see the performance side of it."

And Tarzan also believes in continuous learning.

"Always be in class," he says. "Take all styles, from anybody and everybody. Don’t just stick to one style or one choreographer. Especially if your goal is commercial dance, don’t just think about dancing for a Chris Brown, think about dancing for the people who work for Chris Brown; creative directors, styling team. They work with all of these people, so don’t put all your eggs in oen basket."

Fitness is important for your craft and Tarzan urges young dancers to not take it for granted.

"Take care of your body," he advises. "A lot of dancers think that the only thing you can dod is dance and that’s it. you have to make sure you’re eating well and treating your body well. Eating well, sleeping and working out. You have to work out. Dance is not just working out, it’s a cardio form but you definitely have to work out. Take care of yourself.

"I learned from Ciara’s choreographer Jamaica Craft--these words have stuck with me ever since--she said if you stay ready, you never have to get ready. Keep your headshots on you, keep your business cards on you. Make sure everything is appropriate and business-ready—have your personality in it—but stay ready."

Grace Jones at the Grammys

Grace Jones and the late Rick James were co-presenters for the "Best Male R&B Artist" category at the 1982 Grammy Awards. After her runway-esque swirl to the microphone, topped only by the sexually charged banter with James, Grace Jones had the attention of every viewer while sporting a hat resembling an umbrella’s frame anchored by her most blinding smile. Even winner Marvin Gaye had a nano-second’s pause when approaching the podium helmed by the tall, lithe Grace Jones. Gaye’s winning song was the apropos "Sexual Healing."


Thirty years ago, the gangly model from the West Indies set New York on fire. Grace Jones scorched to the ground every fashion house whose door she darkened. The camera loved her features as each fashion layout revealed yet another something new to study about bone structure. Sometimes irreverent, she was immediately an A-lister who didn’t give a damn about any list. Grace Jones exuded confidence, dramatic poise, and was a shameless heartbreaker. The tabloid rumor mills had Eddie Murphy, Rick James, Dolph Lungren and most men within a mile of Studio 54 scorched in her wake. Icons are anything but static.

There was little surprise when she segued into a singing and acting career. Even adding those occupations to her modeling resume seemed fruitless in containing her. Was it that her personality was just that big? Or, was it her talent? (We will back away from that one and let you decide. Talk amongst yourselves.) A songwriter and vocalist, Grace Jones was a precursor to the Cirque de Soleil-type of showmanship that is the live show standard today. But, what really solidified the Grace Jones experience were her mod fashions. Even skirts had angles to parallel her haircut. Getting next to her could get you stabbed by her jacket, dress or hat. Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj are really neat. But, until they are Bond girls or Bond villains, they are just taking notes in school because Grace Jones already handled that.