Despite the scarcity of dance studios in her Chicago west side community, Keyana Latimer, better known as KeKe, was enrolled in The Academy of Dance Arts at a young age. There she studied genres including ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, and what would quickly become her favorite: tap.
“I had no idea what I was doing but I just started making rhythms on the concrete floor and I thought, ‘I should stick to this.'”
As her skills sharpened she went on to perform with Mad Rhythms, a professional tap company, where she trained with a host of artists including dancer and eventual mentor Brill Barrett.
Not wanting to neglect her craft after graduating high school, Keyanna performed in talent shows during her freshman year of college. The competitions were saturated with rappers and singers but her tap dancing brought a new dynamic to the campus and quickly gained her notoriety.
Soon her phone was ringing with performance requests. “I’m so grateful when people ask me to do shows…but I’m not the only person on campus who has talent.” With that mindset, she set out to assemble a group of creative students ranging from visual artists to piano players. In no time the group had several gigs and through this assembly Keyanna gained the confidence to share another gift with her audiences, singing.
“When I’m on stage I have the opportunity to express myself. I’m not a very outspoken person, but when I perform I feel free.”