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Perkins ’14 pursues dance both on and off campus

By Victoria Aronson

Section: Arts

September 13, 2013

Landing a lead role in the upcoming web series “Why Colored Men Don’t Cry,” Shaquan Perkins ’14, a talented theater major, commences his final year at Brandeis University with a taste of the future successes to come.

Originally from the Bronx, NY, Perkins has delved into the performing arts on campus, choreographing dance routines, starring in productions and playing an instrumental role as a member of both Adagio and Kaos Kids.

Perkins starred in the 2012 production of BET’s “Quickies,” a role that he describes as surreal. “It was very interesting to put on this whole other character, who was so much older than me. It was just hearing my own voice talk about topics of love and moving through things and having all this wisdom I wish I had,” he said.

Last semester, Perkins pushed the boundaries even further, starring in the dramatic portrayal of “The Color Museum.” Tackling serious issues such as stereotypes and racism, Perkins commented, “I’ve never been pushed so emotionally for a role.” Embodying the character Miss Roj, Perkins reflected on the role. “This character was just full of evilness and hurt and all these things and stereotypes, it was like I was speaking for a generation. It was very powerful, but it was very draining,” he said.

Perkins’ talents, however, are not just limited to theater.

In 2011, he landed a prestigious internship with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. He expressed the impact of the internship on his individual growth. “I thought I knew what dance was, until I took classes,” he said. He seized the opportunity to take a modern dance class with one of the directors of the company. “It was the best hour and a half of my life. I found out what sore meant.”

Still pursuing his love for performance arts, Perkins is a skilled choreographer as well. Rejecting the notion of finding the perfect song, he claimed, “The song finds you. You have this vision, and then you start moving.” Although at times the process can be arduous and challenging, “You want to create something that’s going to create a story, and the moves just flow seamlessly,” he said.

Listening to Perkins describe the intricate task of blending old, recycled movements with the creation of new moves allows his passion for choreography to become clear. “The song finds me. I get obsessed, and I close my eyes, and it’s like people are moving inside my head,” he said.

As a member of Kaos Kids, Perkins described his love for hip hop, however he also described his admiration for the strength and flexibility of ballet and modern dance movement. “I fell in love when I took ballet and modern dance,” he said. “I felt like my body just moved so much better.”

Perkins acknowledged the trepidations associated with pursuing the performing arts but urged interested students to “take every class you can, and don’t be afraid to audition and ask for help.”

Having filmed the first episode of “Why Colored Men Don’t Cry,” Perkins is an embodiment of the potential for success. He is currently creating a Web series titled “Life After College but Not Really,” which traces the paths and struggles of two former Brandeis students endeavoring to adjust to life post graduation while still inexplicably drawn to campus. According to Perkins, the series will likely be released at the beginning of November.

Similar to the fictional characters of his upcoming Web series, Perkins is approaching the end of his Brandeis career and plans to attend graduate school in California. When asked to envision his future dream role, Perkins said he would like to be in an “X-Men” film: “I just want to be a badass character with superhero powers and blow some stuff up.”

Looking toward the future, Perkins said, “There’s a lot of rejection in the world, but as long as you have confidence in yourself, people will support you, and you’ll be fine.”

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