The Girl Men Love to Twirl: Detroit’s Nikisha Nabors Back
Oct 14, 2014
By Tracey Bivens
For the many women that are introduced to steppin in this country, you only have a few that make it to the "social media household name” fame. Nikisha Wallace Nabors better known as "Kisha”, hit Detroit’s steppin scene about two years ago. I’ve observed this young lady and admire her hunger and drive in absorbing everything that her male dance partners throw her way. You’ll always recognize her by her infectious smile and tapestry of hairstyles that she sports. I wanted to find out from Kisha why she thinks she stays on the floor more than most women, being in the group You+Me=We and even though she and partner Ed Donaldson didn’t place, if she’s hung up her contest shoes after competing in the 2014 Kirk White Teacher/Student Contest this past weekend.
Nikisha Wallace Nabors
Tracey: I think I’ll start off with how you manage to come onto the dance scene and become instantly popular overnight. You stay on the dance floor and have men lining up to step with you left and right. This has been no easy task for women in the past. What do you attribute to this attention?
Kisha: I think definitely my dedication to the dance. I think that as dedicated as I am to it… that has allowed me to progress in the dance. I remember when no men would dance with me. The more they complimented me on my dance it kind of boosted me in my dance progression and I think my confidence is what carries it.
Tracey: People often say that steppin fills a void or is even therapeutic for them at times. You talk about your son Marlon, your first born, who just went off to college about a month or so ago. Have you adjusted to his absence by coming out more or are there other things in your life that you have going on?
Kisha: Well now with Marlon being gone…I have to spend time with my youngest son. I have not adapted well with him being gone. (Pause) It’s definitely a process. As far as the void…I went through a divorce. Rather than sit around and guess what went wrong in my marriage...I chose to dance. But I’ve always danced…starting when I was eight. I used to dance at The Grand Quarters for a male rap group back in the day as a backup dancer. So yeah…when I had my divorce… dance was very therapeutic for me.
Tracey: You competed in the 2013 Worlds Largest Steppers Contest in the Beginners Category with Tim McGary. You guys didn’t place but has that opened up the door for you in wanting to compete in other large scale contests?
Kisha: Umm…I wouldn’t say opened up the door. It has definitely driven me in wanting to compete. I like the challenge. I like the camaraderie between the people from Detroit. It kind of pushes us to give a little more…do a little more. I can take negative comments or positive comments when it comes to my dance. It doesn’t affect me. But on the contest floor…all bets are off! We all know it’s just for that moment in time. If you win and take home the trophy… I have no problem in congratulating you. It gives me something to work harder for the next time. It makes me go back into the lab.
Tracey: Being relatively new to the steppin scene, sometimes you are privy to the dirty laundry that is exposed from the politics of steppin. I know of five people who had started steppin but have now stopped in less than three years. Yet…Kisha…you seem totally unphased by the foolishness. How?
Kisha: I guess because I have learned to deal with foolishness. My life experiences have taught me that people will always say something. When I did leave the dance scene for a moment…I felt like when I came back… the only thing that would turn me away from dance scene would be my family. Foolishness is a part of life and it’s all in how you handle or don’t handle the rumors and things like that.
Tracey: I notice that Ed Donaldson and Sherry Gordon spend a lot of time with you on the floor grooming your skills and keeping them elevated. There are many men and women who wished they received that type of attention. Do you consider yourself two years later…an accomplished stepper or lifelong learner?
Kisha: I’ll always be a lifelong learner. There’s always something to learn every day. So if I encounter someone I’ve never danced with, they may possess a skill that gets my attention…and if they do…I wanna learn it. I’ve always been open to learning new things.
Tracey: You + Me = We is the newest instructional steppin group to form out of Detroit in the past three years. What would say your group members offer that you feel the other groups might not offer to the general public?
Kisha: We are always on the scene. We attend all kinds of events and I don’t see that with a lot of the other groups. You always see us together…most of us…it’s like we’re family and I think people embrace that. We take care of one another. I would be the prime example. People may look at me and say I would like to be a part of an organization made up of friends. On the dance floor…Ed is a product of what Sherry could do and when people see me on the dance floor…I am a product of what Ed and Sherry can do.
Tracey: The women in your group have a Breast Cancer dance benefit coming up this month. The steppers scene seems to align itself with many social causes these days. Neicy Johnson has the Breast Cancer Survivor Calendars and Big Frank "Silky Slim” Westley supports kids being able to go to summer camp at his Annual Out Cold Productions Steppers Set. Why do you think it’s important to take a pause for the cause?
Kisha: At any given moment in time it could any one of us…or our loved ones or any of the people we dance with. This is our way of showing our love and support and giving back any way we can.
Tracey: You’ve been to Chicago more than a few times now. What is the difference in your opinion between "them” and us when it comes to steppin?
Kisha: I tell Sherry and them this all the time. I wish more people would go to Chicago and see how the dance is done there. Before I went I had no idea how deep the experience was going to be for me. We go to Darrel Davis’ class a lot and after the first time I went…I felt a sense of wanting to start learning all over again. Darrel broke it down and talked about how this dance got them (early Chicago Steppers) through a lot of different situations of life. I like the dance because I’m passionate and grateful that I made it through what I went though. I liked to hear the stories of how they didn’t have instructors to teach them and they had to sit down if dancers didn’t felt they weren’t ready to dance with them yet. I want our men to take trips to Chicago. I feel our Detroit men…they just dance to dance. I feel like maybe if a lot of our men would hear the history and look at the older men dance and realize that they don’t have to give women 20 turns… they would get a better understanding of the dance. I have no problem with people embracing all the turns and spins and twist…IF they can do it without making the dance uncomfortable. But…I like a calm, smooth dance just as much.
In just this short time, Kisha has refueled my energy in the steppin "world.” If new people can come onto the scene and separate themselves from all of the distractions, then the job that the club owners, promoters, instructors, DJs and steppers do…does not go unappreciated. We all play a part in keeping potential steppers interested in coming out and supporting this dance. No one said life was going to be easy and the powers that be sure did downplay the hard parts but I think Kisha Nabors has figured it out. Life is like a dance but dance isn’t life. She knows how to twirl IT on and off.