Passion for dance resonates in student’s choreographies

LaDarius Prince, self-taught dancer and choreographer, begins and ends each day with dance.

As a 5-year-old boy growing up in Tuscaloosa, LaDarius Prince watched his mother dance in the car to songs by artists such as Janet and Michael Jackson.

He copied her moves and dreamt of being a dancer one day, he said.

“I’ve always told my mom that I wanted to be a dancer,” he said. “Every time we tried to have the money to take dance classes, it was never enough.”

Prince said he watched music videos and YouTube videos of his favorite dancers and taught himself how to dance.

Prince said he has studied many types of dance on his own, including jazz and ballet, and also has a background in martial arts that has helped him in his dancing.

Determination and desire have helped him pursue his dream of becoming a dancer.

Prince said he is working to build his portfolio and hoping one day he will get to audition in Los Angeles.

He has gathered a group of 17 students at UNA who dance together and began posting YouTube videos in July.

“It’s all my choreography,” he said, “everything I’ve dreamed of and written about.”

Senior Tori Patterson, who is part of his group, said they started practicing at the YMCA of the Shoals this summer in preparation for launching the videos.

Patterson said she first met Prince when she took his Zumba class at the Student Recreation Center her sophomore year.

She said his energy and the way he taught drew her in.

“He always managed to have 30 or more people in his classes,” she said. “I think that speaks so highly of his character.”

Prince said, when he dances and choreographs, he watches the people around him for inspiration because even the simplest moves can become part of the choreography.

There is more to dancing than just the movement, he said.

“Every dance I do, I want there to be a story and emotion behind it,” he said.

Senior Ashlyn Richter, former UNA cheerleader, said she met Prince about six months ago when he approached her and her fiance to help him with his portfolio.

Richter, who has a background in dance, said Prince’s choreographies are smooth and easy to follow.

“It’s different than anything I’ve ever done before,” she said. “He really knows how to make things flow with the music.”

Now a fitness management major, Prince said he wants to own his own dance company one day.

“That’s my dream job,” he said. “I love choreographing and dancing.”

He said he often begins his day at 4 a.m., headphones in and music on, and continues into the night, whether it is teaching classes or working on his own choreographies.

Prince’s dance portfolio really began when he was 7 years old.

While visiting family in New York he auditioned for and earned a role in the off-Broadway musical “Pocahontas,” he said. This led to several more stage opportunities.

From choreographing his first hip-hop dance when he was 12 years old as part of an audition for a high school play to being cast as the lead dancer in a Broadway production of “Guys and Dolls” in Huntsville, dancing has been a big part of his life, he said.

Former UNA student Dani Lewis said she was part of the Huntsville cast for “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” with Prince and he was a big help to all the dancers.

There was so much to learn in such a short amount of time, she said

“He’s really quick on his feet when it comes to dance moves,” she said.

His mother is supportive of his decision to pursue a life of dancing and acting, he said, but she is also worried that he will not make it.

“I have to prove it’s going to be OK,” he said.

Prince currently teaches kids’ hip-hop and adult cardio hip-hop classes at the YMCA of the Shoals.

From those early years riding in the car dancing to Michael Jackson to starting his own crew at UNA, Prince credits one person with starting his passion for dance.

“It all started because of my mom,” he said. “She never even knew it.”

Prince suggests everyone check out his Instagram, tokenz88, to see the videos and also look for his first video, Lazy Love, on Tori Patterson’s YouTube channel.