DANCE PORN: [JONO KITCHENS]

FEATURE

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“Photo by Peter Fingleton”

Jono Kitchens is a dance choreographer based in the heart of East London. In a world of “straight acting” and an industry with often outdated and damming values, Jono is unapologetically whacking through the walls of prejudice and old with Fierce Femme and Hot Heels routines. He’s choreographing a storm for the likes of “Vince Kidd”, “Marina and the Diamonds” and “So You Think You Can Dance”.

Jono is leading the way for forward thinking in the dance world. Gender is no barrier and both masculinity and femininity are to be explored by all in Jono’s work. This opens the doors for the next generation of dancers to be open in themselves and own all aspects of their personality, there are no limitations or false agendas.

I first met Jono when he was teaching at an open day at “The Centre” College then based in Greenwich. I was blown away and super excited at what I saw. It was that ‘thing‘ that I had been looking for, but I just didn’t know what it looked like until I’d seen it.

Five years down the line I have been graduated from college for 2 years and had the opportunity to work with and for Jono on many occasions. He teaches in many colleges and continues to choreograph for music videos and commercial shows internationally.

If you want to get a full taste of Jono’s fire then go to his Hot Heels class on a Thursday from 6-7pm @Pulse Studio in Angel.

Q. When did you start dancing?

A. I started dancing for my mum in the living room at the age of about 3… when I was 8 she took me to an open audition for a touring production at the theatre in Oxford and I got the job – it was my first step on the big stage and I knew from then that it was what I wanted to be doing

Q.Why did you start dancing?

A. I started taking singing and acting classes at Sylvia Young Theatre School on Saturdays which I loved; but I was always tiptoeing to see into the window of the dance classes, desperate to give it a go. Eventually my mum paid for me to do tap, jazz and street dance and it turns out I was pretty good.

Q. When did you discover Femme and what drew you to it?

A. It wasn’t until I had graduated and had a few years experience that I really discovered ‘femme’ dancing. At dance college it was very much “you must dance like a man” – which I understand, but when I was out taking class or choreographing my own material I was dancing how I wanted to, doing what felt and looked good to me and people responded well to that. It was then, I was introduced to the world of voguing and waacking and I realised there was a sub culture of dance that existed without the restriction of gender stereotypes. This was when I really allowed myself to dance and choreograph according to how I felt and not to care about whether it was perceived as “masculine or feminine”. If I liked it and it felt good – then it was in.

Q. How have you been received in the Dance industry as a Guy doing Femme and Heels work?

A. I’ve been received incredibly well. I don’t think I’d be where I am today had I tried “straight” dancing. I would have lost interest in a world where I didn’t quite fit in. I have done some mainstream work as a dancer, such as X-Factor and whilst it was enjoyable and I am grateful for the experience, it wasn’t always the most fulfilling artistically. 

I’d like to keep pushing the boundaries of men dancing femme, beyond the ‘safe’ performances such as “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” or “Kinky Boots” – I want to choreograph something challenging and impressive in heels, that looks amazing no mater WHO is wearing them!

Q. Who and what are your biggest inspirations artistically?

A. I have always been influenced by early “Madonna” – I choreographed my first ever dance to “Holiday”, in my bedroom which basically looked like an aerobics workout with a lot of “thumbs up”!!!
“Bob Fosse” is a huge inspiration to me; his choreography was so ahead of it’s time – even 2015 isn’t ready for it.
“Paris is Burning” gave me my first glimpse of the drag and ballroom culture that has become so prevalent in my everyday life and whilst it cannot be replicated, I believe its values are being continued and re-imagined in London thanks to clubs such as Sink the Pink and drag performers like Jonny Woo.

Q. Will you ever say yes to “the man”?

A. Never willingly! There have been times I have had to take jobs I didn’t really want to do in order to pay the rent, but ultimately I never do anything that doesn’t make me happy!
What does the London Club scene mean to you? In the last 5 years my idea of a good night out has completely transformed. It’s no longer enough to two-step to the same 7 songs on repeat in G-A-Y bar… I want theatrics, looks, atmosphere, performances – EXTRAVAGANZA! innit!?

Q. How would you feel if they continue to shut down venues such as: The Joiner, The Nelsons Head, Madame JoJo’s and The Black Cap?

A. Obviously its a shame that we are losing these important queer spaces to greedy developers, but its encouraging to see the huge outcry from the LGBT community reinforcing the desire and need for these kind of places to stay open. The scene is thriving, so closing down old venues will hopefully allow new and exciting venues to pop up and become the legendary clubs of the future.

Q. What’s next for Jono Kitchens?

A. Theres plenty to get excited about in the forthcoming year, beyond that – who knows – I will continue to create stuff that excites me and hopefully it excites others too – if it doesn’t, I’ll still keep doing it!! If you wanna see whats what – follow on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram – @jonokitchens/@hotheelslondon

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Ted Rogers “Artpornblog” would like to thank Jono for being a leading example of an Individual in the Queer arts scene.

Big Love

xXx

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