Power of Movement

Meraki Dance Company Performs, Teaches & Inspires

Writer / Renee Larr
Photographer / Amy Payne

Meraki Dance CompanyThe art of dance is often intended to evoke emotion. A dancer’s movement is an expression of the dancer. Karome Walker has been a dancer for more than 20 years, and she founded Meraki Dance Company in August of 2019, recently celebrating its 3rd anniversary.

“The company was founded in 2019 but COVID pushed us back quite a bit,” Walker says.

Walker’s love of dance and background in teaching professionally led her to establish the company.

“What I love most about dance is its freedom, its discipline and its overall beauty,” Walker says. “It allows me to be anything, feel anything, let go and live through movement and music. Dance tells a story, and it’s so magical how a simple yet intentional move to a simple song can create a huge impact and an even bigger emotion. It’s so powerful and creates an identity for so many.”

Meraki is a Greek word used to describe doing something with love, passion and soul.

“I have the word ‘meraki’ tattooed on my wrist,” Walker says. “It’s something I look at as a reminder to always stay true to who I am. I feel like if I don’t love it, or I can’t commit 110%, then don’t do it.”

When Walker was considering what to name the newly founded dance company, the term meant more to her than ever.

“I just felt like it was so perfect,” Walker says. “To me it means love, creativity, soul, and putting your all into everything you do. That’s exactly what I’m doing with this dance company.”

Meraki Dance CompanyThe group consists of male and female dancers. Shalisa Elliott has been a member of Meraki Dance Company since its inception.

“I joined Meraki because I’m in love with Karome’s choreography,” Elliott says. “She has a unique way of being able to convey stories through movement that I really admire. She’s always bringing awareness to compelling issues and issues that need to be discussed.”

Walker tackles topics such as race, immigration, LGBTQ rights and climate change.

“We’re bringing light to different injustices and social issues,” Walker says. “We are letting people see it through dance, and try to get a different view on it or just understand it.”

“Karome has done a wonderful job discussing different issues through dance,” Elliott adds. “Our shows are meant to be thought-provoking. I’m so glad she was able to bring these topics forward during a time when the arts were really suffering because of COVID.”

Each member of the company has dealt with one of the topics they cover on a personal level.

“The company members are super supportive of our messaging,” Walker says.

The company not only performs throughout the area, but also teaches children and teen classes.

“We offer a youth training program for ages 3 to 18,” Walker says. “We offer ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and tap for our kiddos. We also have performance opportunities for our teenagers to perform with the company.”

Walker uses dance to discuss social issues with the company’s young students.

Meraki Dance Company“We would talk in our classes and the students had a lot of questions,” Walker says. “Many weren’t aware of how ugly things had become in the U.S. Kids aren’t usually responsive to lectures. I felt like it was important to explore these things through dance. They’re visually getting the message. The parents of our students have been supportive of our vision.”

Walker has also enlisted a group of individuals to serve as the board of directors for the company.

“They’re my leadership team,” Walker says. “I’m more of a creative spirit than a business spirit, so I have a lot of people helping me along the way.”

Elliott feels dance can ultimately bring people together.

“We’re just trying to figure out as a dance community or the arts community how we can improve, and treat everyone with love, acceptance and inclusion,” Elliott says. “That’s what this whole thing is about – no matter who you are, what you believe or where you’re from, we can all get on that stage and dance together.”

Meraki Dance Company is located at 3184 North Shadeland Avenue in Indianapolis. For more information, call 463-209-3132 and visit merakidanceindy.org.

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