Testimonials

Testimonials

  The testimonials on this page represent some of the transformational work via dance, drumming and other cultural and performing arts endeavors of Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc.  We have a 100% success rate of creating artists and leaders in the field.  Most of these individuals are mentored over a period of two to fifteen years or more.  Listed below are some of the success stories of a Total Dance Experience.

 

  Kikora Franklin

Instructor/Performer/Dancer/Choreographer/Professor of Dance at Penn State University

 "Mojah has been a wonderful inspiration in my life.  As a child, I was able to witness first hand, my mother, Ms. Axam's, diligence in studying, researching, and creating a new, innovative dance form.  I've trained under the direction of my mother and owe her for providing me with a strong knowledge base that derives from her appreciation of African- American history and art forms.  I have been inspired to research and study dance myself"

  Kikora Franklin began her dance training at the age of three at Kuumba Arts Studio in Macon, Ga.  Under the direction of founder, performer, and choreographer Terrie Ajile Axam, Kikora continued to study Modern, Jazz, West African, Ballet, and Mojah dance techniques at Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. in Atlanta, Ga.  Her master instructors included Terrie Ajile Axam, Dawn Axam, Oginga Love, Monique Ryan, Sarah Yarborough, and Patdro Harris.  Kikora has choreographed and performed in artistic productions locally and abroad including the People's Republic of China; Senegal, West Africa, various countries in Europe; Washington, D.C. and numerous other U.S. cities.  In 1998, Kikora received a BA in Communications from Howard University where she directed and choreographed for the Howard University Dance Ensemble.  In 2001, Kikora received her JD and MPA from Georgia State University of Law and Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, during which time she danced and choreographed for the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team.  Upon graduating from Georgia State, Kikora decided to pursue a full time career in dance and taught at North Springs Magnet Arts High School in Sandy Springs, Ga.  Kikora is presently a faculty member at Penn State University where she teaches Modern, West African, and Hip-Hop choreography for theatre, dance, and choral productions.  Some of her professional choreographic credits include: Awakening, Fusion: Form Africa to Hip-Hop, Fences, The Colored Museum, The Point of Departure and For Colored Girls.  In addition to being a performer and choreographer with Axam DTE, Kikora is an artist with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, and an associate company member at Total Dance/Dancical Productions.  Kikora resides in  Pennsylvania with her husband, Wendell, two sons Khari and Gyasi, and her lovely daughter Afi; the loves of her life!

 

  Carolyn Martin 

 Performer/Instructor/Dancical Productions, Inc. Board Member/Consultant

  "Working with Terrie Axam and Dawn Axam and watching the growth of the entire experience of Total Dance, directly after achieving my BFA in dance at FSU in a word, solidified my education - not just in dance, but in artistry, diversity, passion, and strength.  Total Dance is where I learned the phrase 'process and product'.  You can't have one without the other, and I have used this motto to achieve every success in my life since that time.  I consider it a privilege to have been a part of this process.  Total Dance is a vibrant, growing, and passionate entity that enlightens and enhances everyone who opens themselves to the ideals and philosophies it contains.  Terrie has the strength, the courage, and the determination to continue the process - to continue to grow.  And by this she continues to inspire and teach."

  Carolyn Martin is a veteran dancer and choreographer.  A native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Carolyn began her training with Donna Burke where she was part of a competition ensemble that placed 3rd in National competition.  She achieved her BFA in Dance from Florida State University where she was fortunate to work with instructors including Peggy Lyman, Nancy Smith-Fichter, Gwynn Ashton, Richard Sias, Lynda Davis, Anthony Morgan, Jeanne Ruddy, Judith Garay, and Ethel Winters; as well as perform the choreography of Douglas Neilson, Peggy Lyman, and Nancy Smith-Fichter.  Ms. Martin was a member of the first college group allowed to restage "Billy the Kid" under the guidance of Patrice Whiteside, and she had several numbers in the annual student/faculty production "Days of Dance".  Carolyn's involvement with Total Dance Theatre, Inc. (now Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc.) was as a principal company member, assistant to Terrie Ajile Axam - director, choreographer, secretary, and instructor.  Other performance credits include the opening number for the televised 1994 Trumpet Awards, and as cultural ambassadors to the People's Republic of China.  "I am thankful to have my own awakening and feel it a privilege to share my passion, my joy with the friends and family who have traveled this journey with me."

  Adrienne Hall

Performer/Instructor/Graduate Student at Temple University

  "I am currently 21 years of age and I have been a member, student, mentee, and child of Total Dance for 17 years.  Subsequent to receiving to receiving my BFA from the University of Arts, having performed, toured, and instructed with major companies internationally and throughout the Tri-state area, I can declare that none of the experiences have amounted to what I learned, received, or experienced for this company.  Total Dance and the family that I attained by the way of it, has had a profound effect on my life in more ways than one.

  As an instructor, any venue that I enter to teach I am a unique asset.  As a performer, people are amazed and intrigued by the technical proficiency I exude in various genres of dance.  I know that I owe all of these accolades to Mojah.  Mojah demands that one educate and excel their mind, body, and spirit.  Everything I have gained as an artist and a person, I know I got from the studio.  This studio has and continues to be a home away from home.  Terrie and her family have been my family since I was four years old.  I was blessed to have unparalleled caliber of teachers, mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and life long friends who have all been instrumental to not only who I am but the person I continue to become."

  Heather Benson

Instructor/Performer/Graduate of Florida State University

  "Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. ha given me great opportunities to perform and grow as a person.  As a member of the company and exchange program, I have the opportunity to learn professionalism in the dance studio, on stage, and in the administrative office.  Total Dance is the only organization that has given me the chance to experience complete training in the dance and visual arts world.  I believe I have received the ultimate foundation for my career in the dance field."

  Dancing since the age of two, Heather has received training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip-hop, Mojah, and pointe from Norma's Academy of Dance, the Atlanta Ballet Centre of Dance and Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. - where she was a principal dancer and company member.  As such, she performed in Fusion and Women Hold Up Half The Sky. Heather has also performed in the National Black Arts Festival Production: "Return to the Cotton Club"; the Atlanta Ballet Centre of Dance Production, "The Nutcracker"; and the Kennesaw School of Dance Production, "The Wizard of Oz".

  Dara Jomani Stevens

Performer/Instructor/Choreographer - Eleone Dance Theatre

  "When I was in eighth grade, I went to see a show called "Mad Hearts" and I saw a beautiful dancer with so much charisma presenting herself onstage.  After the show I told my mother I wanted to do what that lady [Dawn Axam] is doing. . . I had already chosen the math and science high school, but decided to audition for the school Dawn Axam directed. . . I understood, beyond the jumps, turns, and leg extensions, that dance was an art of expression whether it is to heal, teach, educate, an audience, or even yourself."

  Dara Stevens is an Atlanta native who began her dance training and performing experience at Tri-Cities High School and Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. under Dawn Axam and Terrie Axam.  She received her BFA in Dance Education and is the 2004 recipient of the Stella Moore Award at the University of the Arts.  Ms. Stevens has performed with Total Dance Theatre in Senegal, West Africa for the "Fusion" tour, Brian Sanders "Junk" (Phila.), Jomandi Productions "Black Nativity" (Atl.), Opera North's "Vanqui" (Phila.), VIA International's "Body Snatchers: The Musical" (L.A.), "Haiku/Poems" (N.Y.), and Sonia Sanchez's "Living Legends" tour.  She has been trained by as well performed works nationally by renowned teachers/choreographers Patdro Harris, Roscoe Sales, Milton Myers, Kim Bears, Nina Gilreath "Ballethnic", Ronen Koresh "Koresh Dance Theater", Abdel Salaam "Forces of Nature", Christopher Huggins and Shawn-Lamere Williams "Eleone Dance Theater".  Ms. Stevens has taught classes at University of the Arts, and conducted several workshops at University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State College, as well as several studios throughout Phalidelphia and New Jersey.  She directed the Apprentice Company of "Messiah Dance Works" (2003-2004).  She is presently the resident choreographer of "Messiah Dance Works Company".  Ms. Stevens is also a principal dancer and rehearsal director of "Eleone Dance Theatre" under the direction of Shawn-Lamere Williams and Dr. Sheila Ward.  "Eleone Dance Theatre" premiered Ms. Stevens' work "Yesterday...Today...Tomorrow" (2005) receiving rave reviews.  "She would like to thank God for the gift and opportunity".

  Lynorris Evans

Performer/Choreographer/Cirque du Soleil

  "I began dancing at Total Dance/Dancical Productions and Tri-Cities Visual and Performing Art Magnet High School when I was in the ninth grade.  Terrie AjileAxam and Dawn Axam became family as well as mentors.  I was taught by a host of outstanding instructors which provided a strong foundation for me to become a professional dancer and performer."

  Lynorris Evans is a graduate from Fordham University, where he received his BFA in Dance.  He began his training at Tri-Cities High School and Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc.  In 2000, he had the opportunity to attend Georgia's Govenor's Honors Program.  He went on to further his training as a scholarship student at Houston Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Lines Ballet, Jacob's Pillow, National Ballet School of Canada, and Ballet Divertimento.  He has performed works from choreographers such as Alvin Ailey, Judith Jamison, Debbie Allen, Milton Myers, Alonzo King, Merce Cunningham, Kevin Wynn, and many others.  He would like to thank his family as well as everyone else who believed in him because it wouldn't have been possible without the help of you all.

  Monique Ryan

Instructor/Performer/Choreographer/Executive Artistic Director/Dance All Productions®, Inc./Dance Theatre of Huntsville®, LLC

  "I began my dance career with Total Dance as an instructor of Vaganova technique or Russian Ballet.  I never imagined, (being trained strictly ballet), that I could or would ever dance like her.  Some of her ideals were foreign to me, but there was something that drew me to her.  I enjoyed working with Terrie (as I so intimately call her) because she came with fire, spirit, courage, and endurance.  I wanted to have that same sensation as well.  I knew that once I started dancing with her, that there would never be an end to my devotion to her and her pursuit of bringing everyone in the dance world that much closer to the Mojah technique.  Mojah really is a spiritual thing for me, and I believe that everyone that has encountered Terrie knows it as well.  Mojah teaches you how to connect not only with your body, but with your mind and spirit.  Does she work your body until it absolutely wishes to collapse?  Yes, but at the same time she teaches you how to dance above the norm.  She teaches you how to captivate an audience until the very last beat.

  To me, anybody can dance, but it takes a strong mind, body, and spirit to take on the challenge of Terrie's journey.  I learned to be very disciplined, yet very demanding of myself when it comes to dance.  Terrie showed me though, that not everyone can take the journey towards excellence, (eventhough some honestly believe that they can) one must be patient with those that try.  I have worked with Terrie for a total of twelve years.  I took a short break to have a daughter who too takes on the Mojah Experience tradition.  I have pledged to myself to ensure that the Mojah Experience stays alive.  I have never denied or turned my back to it or Terrie.  It is in the way I walk, the way I talk.  It now lives in my own studio in Huntsville, Alabama where my students believe that Terrie is an icon.  My fire, my spirit, my courage, and my endurance survives intolerable conditions.  I say this because no matter what, Mojah will live in me."

  Monique, former principal dancer of Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. moved with her family to Huntsville, Alabama where she has created an arts education organization that enriches the quality of life through dance theatre.  While with Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc., Monique trained and performed with Ajile (Terrie as she so endearingly likes to call her), Dawn Axam, Patdro Harris, Oginga Love, and a host of other great choreographers and dancers.  Her extensive training comes from dance master instructors from around the world such as Ajile, Beverly Veenker, Gus Giordano, Al Gilbert, Brett Brill, Philadanco, Alvin Ailey, Chuck Davis, Samba Diallo, Otis Sallid, Patdro Harris, Roscoe Sales, and Sandy Alvarez of Lula Washington Dance Theatre, just to name a few.  Some of her most notable performances include "Women Hold Up Half the Sky", dancing for Elton John, Luther Vandross, and Wei Wei of Japan for the 1996 Summer Olympics.  Monique is extensively trained in the Vaganova ballet technique, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern, West African, Latin, choreography, and pedagogy.  It is her goal to continue her journey of dance and spiritual growth, while blazing a path for her future performers to experience the great wonders that the dance world has to offer.

  Patricia Williams 

Library Media Specialist, High Meadows High School, Roswell, GA

"At the age of 46 for the first time, I learned how to walk - head up, back straight in a wide easy stride.  Dance was life to Terrie and dance has since made life possible to me."

  Henry Hearns

Performer/Instructor

"Terrie will live on through people like myself who has taken what she imparted and used that as a stepping stone to make a difference in the arts no matter where we may be."

  Nia Austin-Edwards 

Total Dance Company Member/Instructor/Graduate of New York Tisch School of The Arts

  "Total Dance has made me, not only the dancer I am, but the person as well.  I've learned so much more than dance, such as how to be a leader, to adapt quickly, to instruct, to choreograph. . .the list could go on forever.  This program develops true artists who can accomplish any and everything.  I've watched fellow company members get into college, join companies, fire lance, and so much more.  I am proud to be a true child of Total Dance and plan to continue to support them throughout my career."

  Nia Austin-Edwards was born December 28, 1988.  She has been dancing since the age of three and has been with Total Dance for eleven years.  As a company member, Nia performs regularly in major productions such as Fusion: From Africa to Hip Hop and Women Hold Up Half the Sky, along with other smaller venues such as the Wheat Street Baptist Church's Health Forums.  She also performs in the annual youth concert.  Nia has received various awards with Total Dance such as Most Improved Student in 2000 and the Director's Award since 2001.  Along with her work at Total Dance, Nia is a dance major at Tri-Cities Visual and Performing Arts Magnet High School.  She has received Maggies for highest GPA in Dance (2003 & 2004) and Best Underclassman (2004).  As a member of the Dance Department, she has also been honored as the Best Freshman (2003) and Best Sophomore (2004).  On top of her rigorous dance schedule, she maintains a 4.0 GPA.  Eventually, Nia plans to combine her skills as a dancer and poet to make her opinions known to the entire world.  "Otherwise, what am I here for?" 

 

  Frankie Axam-Hocker 

Student/Junior Dance Instructor/Total Dance Youth Company member/Graduate from Tri-Cities Magnet High School/ Rising Freshman of Boston University as Dance Major 

  "Hi, my name is Frankie Axam-Hocker.  I have been attending Total Dance since I was three.  My mom, Dawn Axam-Hocker, and my Aunt Ajile Axam have helped me in my dance career tremendously.  I have always wanted to be a dancer and I know that is what I want my occupation to be in the future' and my mom and aunt are helping me get there.  In the future I will train at other places and go to different companies, but Total Dance shall always be my base.  It will be my base because that is the first place I got my training and love for dance.  Also, I must say everyday that I am thankful that I have people like my aunt and mom to support me in what I love to do.  Total Dance is a great dance school to learn techniques and love for dance."