05-25-2018  11:51 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

The Latest: 3 injured in hit-and-crash in downtown Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Latest on hit-and-crash in Portland, Oregon (all times local):11:20 a.m.Police say three women have been injured in a hit-and-run crash near Portland State University.Portland police Sgt. Chris Burley say the vehicle hit the women while they were on a sidewalk...

Hit-and-run driver strikes pedestrians in downtown Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say paramedics are tending to "multiple patients" after a hit-and-run driver struck pedestrians in downtown Portland.Portland Fire and Rescue says the crash happened Friday morning near Portland State University.Police have not said how many people have been...

Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black has been charged with welfare fraud.Nkechi Diallo, known as Rachel Dolezal before she legally changed her name in 2016, was charged this week...

The highest-paid CEOs by state

Here are the top-paid CEOs by state for 2017, as calculated by The Associated Press and Equilar, an executive data firm.The survey considered only publicly traded companies with more than jumi billion in revenue that filed their proxy statements with federal regulators between Jan. 1 and April 30....


Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...


Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed as a white woman pretending to be black has been charged with welfare fraud.Nkechi Diallo, known as Rachel Dolezal before she legally changed her name in 2016, was charged this week...

Students hand back in yearbook after racial slur is pictured

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Students at a coastal Georgia high school are being asked to hand back in their yearbooks after a racial slur made for some bad memories.The Savannah-Chatham County school district tells news outlets that the publisher has recalled the Windsor Forest High School yearbook...

Column: Jack Johnson's biggest crime was being black

Jack Johnson's biggest crime was being an unrepentant black man who beat up white men for a living.High-flying and flamboyant, he refused to live by the unwritten rules of American society in the early 1900s. That made him a target, and that eventually cost him his freedom after being convicted of...


Famed chef Mario Batali's Vegas Strip restaurants will close

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mario Batali's three Las Vegas Strip restaurants will shut down July 27, officials said Friday, as the celebrity chef faces sexual misconduct allegations from multiple women.Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group partner Joe Bastianich sent a letter to nearly 300 workers...

The Latest: Weinstein takes books on theater, film to arrest

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the sexual misconduct probe of film producer Harvey Weinstein (all times local):11:40 a.m.Harvey Weinstein was in and out of custody so quickly in his rape case, he probably didn't have time to read the books he brought with him.The film mogul carried three...

Weinstein faces sex charges amid #MeToo reckoning

NEW YORK (AP) — It was the moment the #MeToo movement had been waiting for: Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.His face pulled in a strained smile and his hands locked behind his back, the once-powerful Hollywood figure emerged from a police station Friday facing rape and criminal sex act...


For CEOs, .7 million a year is just middle of the pack

NEW YORK (AP) — Chief executives at the biggest public companies got an 8.5 percent raise last year,...

Former NAACP leader exposed as white faces fraud charges

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A former NAACP leader in Washington state whose life unraveled after she was exposed...

Police: Suspected restaurant gunman had no criminal record

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The man suspected of shooting three people inside an Oklahoma City restaurant before...

Putin says US exit from Iran deal could trigger instability

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Friday that the U.S. exit from the...

Explosion at Indian restaurant in Canada wounds 15 people

TORONTO (AP) — An explosion caused by a homemade bomb ripped through an Indian restaurant where children...

Netherlands, Australia hold Russia liable for downing MH17

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A day after international prosecutors said they had unequivocal evidence of...

Bruce Poinsette of The Skanner News

Kemba Roots FestivalIf you want to know Kemba Shannon, watch her dance.

"Any of the emotions that I can't release on the street, I put it into my dancing," she says. "I express that through movement to get away, to escape the false reality of real life."

Shannon has performed on Broadway and toured the world with the likes of Celine Dion, Pink and Madonna for 20 years. Currently, she runs the Kemba Shannon Dance Center in the Kenton neighborhood. In addition to training teens in her company, the center also provides youth and adult classes for residents interested in getting fit.

The Baltimore native is a recent Portland transplant. During her four years in the city, she has dealt with challenges in getting her art to the community and expressing her culture. Dance allows her to exercise the stress and get her point across without being silenced. In many ways, Portland is her latest challenge.

One of Shannon's first obstacles was learning to deal with alopecia. Instead of letting the condition get her down, she turned it into a point of strength. Some people who see her bold, high energy performances assume her bald head is a fashion choice.

The Kemba Shannon Dance Center"It's funny because in L.A. they look for characters," she says. "I felt like if I had wigs on and had the Beyoncé look, they wouldn't have chosen me. They chose me because I was different."

Shannon knew dancing was her calling in middle school. Even then, she pictured herself on prominent stages like the Emmys and Oscars.

"I was drawn by the excitement of dance and it became my passion," she says.

In addition to performing, Shannon also took an interest in choreography at a young age. She would create her own routines while practicing the ones assigned by her teacher.

Shannon was inspired by Michael and Janet Jackson, as well as legendary choreographers Bill T. Jones and Alvin Ailey.

"They've really inspired me as an ongrowing choreographer," she says. "I'm always learning.

"I don't choreograph just to choreograph."

She brings her emotions to her work and depicts what she sees. Her work explores themes like war, love and poverty. The goal is to help heal some of the community's issues by illustrating them through the lens of dance.

She hopes the community will support the dance center more.

When Shannon first opened its doors, the neighborhood didn't seem interested. Eventually, she had to close the doors and focus on her company.

Initially, she struggled with the lack of interest.

Kemba Dancers Dia Tribe

Shannon's Company performs at Diatribe in the Park

Family and local community members helped get her through. Shannon cites her parents, teachers, Todd Strickland and her daughter for constant support throughout the journey. She gives special thanks to Bobby and Liz Fouther, who helped her push on despite setbacks in developing her dance center.

Now that the program has grown, more people are coming to peer in on her training.

In response to the increase in community interest, Shannon opened up the doors again and is offering youth and adult classes.

Still, her primary focus is on the dancers in her company.

"My teaching style is raw," says Shannon. "I'm really hard on them.

"To be a part of my company you must have passion to work hard and know that we are pushing you because we care."

As an instructor, she is a stickler for being on time, abiding by the dress code and journal writing.

The no-nonsense approach is due in large part to Shannon's experience working with Madonna. She says the music icon taught her how to be a businesswoman.

Madonna would show her dancers every mistake she made and even fired crew on the spot. At the end of the day, she held herself accountable for everything she invested money in and refused to put blind trust in people.

Shannon says that has stuck with her to this day.

Touring with the likes of Madonna also allowed her to experience a broad range of cultures. Wherever she traveled, she would go to the clubs to learn the dances.

Shannon prides herself on being able to take styles from other countries and make them her own. This involves changing anything, including timing, costumes and music. She dissects the dances to recreate her own movements.

"Everything is re-created," says Shannon. "There are so many people that did the moonwalk before Michael Jackson but Michael branded it."

Ultimately, she leads by example. When it comes to aspiring dancers, her advice is simple.

"Put the work in and you shall be rewarded."

The Kemba Shannon Dance Center is located on 2017 N. Kilpatrick St, Portland, Ore. Currently, the center is looking for sponsors for its students. For more information, call 323-691-6409 or email the center.

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