By Mr. James Brabenec (IMCOM)September 16, 2010
FORT SILL, Okla.--While photographing a fitness class for an upcoming feature article for the Cannoneer, as the upbeat music thumped to a driving bass beat urging fitness participants on, a diminutive figure in the background moved with a coordinated fluidity usually uncommon in young children.
This was my introduction to the wondrous dance steps of Da'Jaun Porter, age 7, the son of Janae and Staff Sgt. Shannon Ollison of Service Battery, 434th Field Artillery Detachment.
Porter had a way that day of catching everyone's attention without asking for it. Once the music started, Da'Jaun's dance moves looked like he was on auto-pilot. Basketballs stopped bouncing, shooters stopped shooting as several pairs of eyes watched this young artist perhaps thinking, "7-year-old boys don't move like this."
But, this young boy does.
In fact, Da'Jaun transform's from a quiet, polite and helpful young man into an artist in motion when music begins. Janae said music is an integral aspect of daily life in the Ollison household and has been all through Da'Jaun's formative years.
"Everything I taught him was in a song, he even learned to spell his name in a song," said Janae, who displays her own love of music and artistic expression playing drums and singing in the family's church, Zoe Embassy, in Lawton.
Her love of music begins each day with tunes playing in the house as the family gets going. In addition to the audio arts, the Ollison household is decorated with other art works such as a glass pane on a decorative holder. The pane has a red heart centered on it with colorful lettering expressing what could be a family motto: "Let love awaken your spirit and move your soul to dance."
That soulful expression is evident in every member of the Ollison household, when music fills the house every family member, including Da'Jaun's young sister, Dea'Janae, 3, moves to the stirrings they feel inside.
Style of music is not important either. Janae said Da'Jaun is equally comfortable line dancing, or moving to heavy metal, alternative rock or rhythm and blues to name a few. Chances are pretty good if there's a beat, Da'Jaun will find his dance step, she said.
Don't look for his moves in a book or from the mind of some dance maestro. Da'Jaun is not the product of some school of dance and hasn't attended a single dance class. After school he will often be found at the Lawton Boys and Girls Club where he watches a lot of music videos. Janae said he often picks up on dance moves from watching the videos then try them out at home.
"He's not fearful to try new things, once he sees something, he will see if he can do that dance step. Other times he just goes with what's in his heart," said Janae.
"I just dance, because it makes me happy," said Da'Jaun. Whether he moves stiffly like a robot, powerfully leaping to his feet in a martial arts-type move or turning the world upside down with a quick headstand, his moves aren't gradually realized but performed instantly with a practiced ease.
A smile of fatherly satisfaction filled Shannon's face as he watched Da'Jaun go through his moves. Shannon talked of all the child acts that hit television or pop culture only to crash and burn later.
"Everyday parents push their kids to the edge making them do something they're good at, but not wanting to do professionally," he said. "We'll let him flow with it, enjoy his dancing, and if he comes to us and says this is what I want to do, then we'll support him. We won't push him into it."
Janae said her son is not the type to draw attention to himself at school. The second grader is just as comfortable with his nose between the pages of a book or helping his teacher's with some project. However, if music happens to come on at some point during the day, she said no invitations are necessary.
"If you give him the opportunity to dance, you don't have to ask him to," she said.
Both Ollisons stress the value of getting a good education. For Da'Jaun there's an added bonus to bringing a report card home filled with A's.
"He's been a very good student now for two years," said Janae. "If he gets all A's, he gets to keep his Mohawk haircut; good marks on his spelling tests earns the added touch of red dye to his coiffure.
With a touch of motherly concern in her voice, Janae said she isn't too sure how Da'Jaun would do in a structured or choreographed environment. She said his dancing is so natural and free as he moves to a particular feeling he has at that moment. Regardless the Ollison home includes plenty of open space should a certain draw out his expressive nature.
For now Da'Jaun is a 7-year-old boy ... a polite one at that.
"Mom, can I please dance to Michael Jackson'"
For a moment, the King of Pop seems to come to life again, as "Billy Jean" takes on a new life through the expressive moves of a talented young man.