PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hip Hop Soulsation Academy founder Cykhyia Sanders wants to provide the opportunities for inner city youth she was never afforded as a kid for learning dance.
“I love to dance, I love to sing, I love the arts. That wasn’t feasible for my mom and them to put me in dance classes.”
The studio, located at 10233 NE Clackamas St. in outer east Portland, caters to culturally diverse students from all walks of life, Sanders said.
“I have a lot of students and I’ve had a lot of students that have come from broken homes, one parent homes, I have some students that have been in gangs. And they didn’t have an outlet,” she said.
Originally from Brooklyn, NYC., Sanders said being one of eight siblings provided few dance opportunities due to the financial strain.
She then relocated to Portland after her parents found work there and never let her love of dance die out.
Sanders eventually became a dance instructor for Multnomah County’s SUN Community School programs, which offers after school and summer camp programs. In addition, she’s taught dance for various public schools, including Madison High School.
Her son, Tyrell Sanders, said his mom put him in those early dance classes with her in order to keep him out of trouble.
Eventually Tyrell found a passion for the craft on his own and became a prominent dancer of a self taught Krump style of dance, as well as general hip hop.
“After a minute I kind of realized dancing–girls thought it was sexy for a guy that knew how to dance,” he said.
Tyrell is now an instructor at his mother’s academy after spending some years in Las Vegas pursuing a professional dance career.
Today Tyrell said he’s motivated to continue giving back to the community through the dance studio and instilling those values to his daughter.
It’s now been 10 years since Sanders first opened a private studio in northeast Portland, which she continues to offer at affordable prices and even works with families for making payment plans throughout the month if they can’t afford the cost all at once.
There are dance courses available for all skill levels, from children to young adults, with costs ranging from $85 to $105 per student, per month, she said.
Recently, the team lead by Sanders, secured a top 10 spot in a world dance competition held over the summer in New Jersey, called Star Dance Alliance 2019.
The team captain, Adarah Johnson-Madison, had been impressed by the moves of Soulsation Academy dancers ever since viewing them at Oaks Amusement Park in southwest Portland as a little girl.
Johnson-Madison joined the academy at seven years old but family car issues caused her to have to drop out. She joined back up at 13 and never looked back.
“They were so loving and family like that I wanted to join,” she said.
Johnson-Madison added was very excited that her team placed so high in the world competition, having never traveled much outside of Portland before then.
Now 17, Johnson-Madison hopes to continue to dance full time into adulthood but said she’s also interested in studying psychology as a career backup plan.
“I still am growing even though I have ‘Team Captain’ as a title. I’m still leveling up each day, every time I’m here,” she said.