“Dancing is freedom, it is a connection with one’s inner core. While dancing, you can process negative and positive experiences and you find your way back to your centre. It’s a kind of therapy.” This is what Nikeata Thompson feels when pursuing her passion of dancing. The professional dancer and choreographer best known for her appearances in Germany’s Next Topmodel or Got To Dance speaks to Discover Germany about fitness tips, her milestone projects and much more.
Born in 1980 in Birmingham, Nikeata has Jamaican roots, moved to Germany in her early childhood and now calls Berlin her home. “Home is everywhere where I feel comfortable, where I have friends and where I can work. Thus, my home is not a place but rather a feeling. It could be anywhere in this world and somehow this thought is also beautiful. I like to travel to new places, to discover new cultures. We simply venture out too little from our comfort zones, but we should actually always have it with us,” she says.
What many might not think when seeing her intricate moves is that dancing wasn’t Nikeata’s first career aspiration. “It was more of a coincidence that I became a professional dancer,” she smiles. After all, until she was 18, she participated in various competitions and became multiple German champion in pentathlon, heptathlon and hurdle race. Nikeata continues: “Dancing crossed my path when I wanted to qualify for the Olympics. When I think about it now it sounds really crazy, but back then I simply followed my instinct and dropped the Olympics to tour through Europe with SEEED. Coincidence or fate? I don’t know, but apparently it was just the right thing!
In fact, it seemed more than simply the right thing. Since Nikeata pursued professional dancing at the young age of 19, she has become one of the most successful star and stage choreographers of our time. She worked with some of the most credible Hip Hop artists and became the go-to dancer and choreographer for cutting edge dancing in Germany. Multiple tours, videos, stage coachings and TV appearances followed. She has worked with directors for movies and commercials – in front of and also behind the camera. Examples include working with Tom Hanks on choreography for A Hologram for the King, on music videos with Sean Paul or Felix Jaehn, and on the impressive ECHO performance of Robin Schulz in 2014. Furthermore, the likes of Leerdammer, adidas, H&M, Reebok and many more worked with Nikeata for different projects and commercials.
Today, she is especially famous for her jury participation in popular TV shows like Got To Dance or Got To Dance Kids and her role as head of choreography and stage coach for The Voice of Germany. Furthermore, she is part of Heidi Klum’s latest Germany’s Next Topmodel season this year. Like last year, she will play a significant role in choosing the candidates as the catwalk coach. “All of my projects are an important part of me because I only do projects that I personally like and am able to represent. Germany’s Next Topmodel is a new, great challenge and The Voice of Germany is almost like a family reunion. But Got To Dance was a real breakthrough – not only for me in front of the camera, but rather for Germany’s dance scene. I loved and lived this format, just like anyone that saw the show could see,” Nikeata laughs.
One of the dancer’s most favored successes, however, is the foundation of her own dance agency, the NT Dance Agency. “It was a milestone for me and the start to the life that I live today. A life where I’m not only a dancer but also get taken seriously as choreographer and entrepreneur,” Nikeata says, and adds: “When founding the agency, my vision was to bring more structure into the initially very chaotic dancer booking process. I wanted to achieve reasonable salaries for my colleagues and I, and that we get taken seriously. Just like people accepted music as art, dance should also be an important part of TV and music video productions. Even though we are nowhere near achieving what I would like to achieve, much has changed in the last seven years since the agency’s formation. And when I was able to contribute just a little bit towards this, I’m very happy about it.”
Another project that Nikeata Thompson brought to life is the Urban Dance School – an online coaching platform that teaches Germany how to dance. “After Got To Dance, many people asked me whether I had my own dance school. Back then, I gave workshops all across Germany and I taught up to six classes on the weekends which simply wasn’t doable in the long-run. I never wanted a dance school because my personal expectations were too high. I would have wanted to give courses there myself often, but with so many other jobs on the side this simply wouldn’t have been possible. So we thought about an online platform. I simply loved the thought that everyone, regardless of previous experience or location, would be able to train with me! Dancing might not be a big part of German culture, but wouldn’t it be great if it would become a part sometime in the future?”
To further achieve this, Nikeata also has some tips and tricks for aspiring dancers: “Always stay in motion. Dare to try different styles, push your boundaries, visit different countries and courses and most of all, create your own style! Be your own brand. Don’t try to perfectly copy every dance but rather dance freely and observe yourself and your body. If you want to successfully and professionally dance then this is probably the best tip I can give.” She adds: “However, first and foremost, you need to understand that you won’t always have a rosy life as a dancer. It’s difficult to be noticed and taken seriously. You really need to work hard to make a living. But regardless, dance is one of the world’s most beautiful art forms.”
On fitness tips and future plans
Adorning the covers of the likes of Women’s Health magazine and trying to push at least three to four workout sessions that include endurance, strength and dance training into her busy weekly schedule, Nikeata is the go-to person when it comes to fitness tips. “I believe that every person has their own valve – one likes to box, the next prefers meditating – finding the most suitable for oneself is important,” she smiles and adds: “We actually know that we should eat well and start doing some sport. This is only a question of attitude. Everyone can achieve this with a small portion of willpower!”
And what does Nikeata want to achieve in 2018? “I want to plan more time for rest, I want to travel more and get to know the world. Giving something back to people that might not have as much and putting the focus back onto my own well-being which I myself determine and not others.” She concludes: “Furthermore, I’m currently seen in the new season of Germany’s Next Topmodel and I’m still the brand ambassador for PUMA which is exciting. But what you guys can expect beyond that is a small secret. I definitely want to develop myself further and I will do that this year!”
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF I PHOTO: KORDULA KOHLSCHMITT