Name: Maleek Washington
Profession: Performing Artist & Teacher
What area of the BX are you from? Hunts Point
Current Location: Soundview
Maleek and I met as students at The Harlem School of the Arts about 16 years ago where were both enrolled in the College Prep Scholarship Program. We then ended up as dance majors at LaGuardia High School in the city. Maleek's sick movement quality along with his hustler mentality has afforded him opportunities to travel with many renowned companies all over the globe! Most recently he was seen in NBC's live production of Jesus Christ Superstar! I'm so proud to see how far he has come in his career and to see how much love he has for where he comes from.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Maleek Washington and I am a dancer from the Bronx. I’ve had the privilege of being able to travel the world and share my passion for dance. I have had success in a field with have the most unorthodox route that has gotten to me there. I'm a college drop out that made it to the top a.k.a "the Kanye West of Dance" (but I don’t support Trump).
What are your fondest memories of growing up in the Bronx?
I grew up across the street from Spofford. It was the example of where I knew I didn’t want to be in the future. So I focused on dance, they opened a dance school on that corner. My mom went in and convinced the owner to let me take class (she had a plan). I took the class and the owner asked me to be a teacher, I was only 15. I started teaching the next day and that started my journey of my teaching career.
Do you feel as though being from the Bronx has heavily influenced who you are today?
Yes of course. It taught me how to hustle. I’m from Hunts Point which is known for prostitutes, drug dealers, and gangsters. To the outside world they saw danger, I saw amazing teachers that were efficient in business, marketing, and confidence. I used everything I saw and put into an artistic form. I hustle harder than a lot of dancers I know because they are in a way privileged. I can’t afford to take it easy if I’m not busy I feel like I’m being lazy. “The Best teachers in life are hungry stomachs, empty pockets, and broken hearts”.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
My mother Bianca Smith. My mother is my rock she wasn’t always my best friend because she had to play mom and dad since my father was incarcerated for 16 years and missed my entire childhood. I never wanted for anything because I saw her work hard to provide for me on a daily. Even when I expressed my interest in dance she didn’t hesitate. She did the research, started taking me to shows and found out about the best dance schools. She was my first agent. I know how to do all of this work because she was the one doing it for me when I was little. Where would I be if she wasn’t here? That’s a scary thought and because of that I know I strive for greatness to make her proud. Hopefully I’m doing a good job.
What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
I recently joined Camille A. Brown and Dancers. I met Camille my senior year at LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts in 2005. When she called me last year to join the company, I cried. I've wanted to dance for her since I was 17. I put in the work for 13 years not realizing that she would want to work with me.
If you could, in what ways would you give back to your community?
I just want to let kids know they are bigger then their block. The world is literally at their fingertips. I wish I could take kids around the world and show them how loved their talents are on the other side of the earth. I teach at schools, I mentor students, I invite them to shows and if they cant pay I’ll buy their tickets. Listen, even the smallest thing could be a catalyst to create the next great artist from The Bronx.
If someone were visiting the Bronx, where would you tell them to go?
Oooo good question. Go see what BAAD (Bronx Academy of Art and Dance) is doing in the community for artists. Also, the Point it’s a artscape program that resides in Hunts Point and its been apart of the community for years. The fact that there aren't more programs like this in the Bronx is sad, but I'm happy that the Point is still running because I used to attend there when I was younger.
* Maleek is also on faculty at Broadway Dance Center where he teaches Contemporary Fusion.*
TAKE HIS CLASS!