Who doesn’t know what a Soul Train Line is? And, who doesn’t remember those original Soul Train dancers whose iconic moves set the stage for a myriad of dance steps, not to mention fashion, that have permeated every aspect American culture—even today? For as significant as these dancers were to the American lexicon, they have never been honored. Damita Jo Freeman, one of the original Soul Train dancers, renowned choreographer, actress and trailblazer decided to change all that. On Saturday, January 12, the original Soul Train gang will be honored at a private gathering in Los Angeles—the first step in launching her new non-profit, the Dancer Jo Foundation.
Says Freeman, “I have been so incredibly blessed in my career. I’ve been a ballet dancer, I’ve traveled the world over touring and working with incredible artists from Shirley McClaine and Cher to James Brown and Diana Ross after being plucked from Soul Train by Joe Tex. I choreographed everything from American Bandstand and sitcoms to award shows such as The Emmys,Grammys, among others. I even choreographed the Clos
ing Ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics with Lionel Richie and created a
dance phenomenon when I enlisted the help of 500 street dancers and 25 professional dancers to take part in a dance style that I and the original Soul Train dancers created–popping and locking. However, the other dancers that worked alongside me never received their due—and I intend to change that by honoring our own. This event is called Legendary 70’s Pioneers AKA Original Soul Train Gang. I’ve opened so many doors and it’s time to give back to those who have not had the same opportunities in their careers that I have.”
Dancer Jo Foundation, while still in its developmental phase, intends to honor the contributions of unrecognized/unsung influencers artists in the field of entertainment through an annual Legendary Pioneer Awards event. It is also planning to provide scholarships to youth in performing arts (film, TV, music, theatre and broadcasting)
For more information, please visit www.dancerjofoundation.org.