Kashani Stokley, Founder & Executive Director
A Brooklyn Native, Kashani earned a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Communication from the College of New Rochelle and earned a graduate certificate for the Institute for Non-Profit Management from Columbia Business School.
One summer afternoon in 1986, Kashani’s mother asked him if he would like to take dance classes. Assuming she was joking Kashani said yes and before he knew it, he began his dance training in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Tap at the age of 10 with the New Experience Dance Ensemble (NEDE). From the very first day Kashani felt he was born to dance. While studying with NEDE, at the age of 14, Kashani was asked to become an Assistant Teacher.
Simultaneously, Kashani had already begun teaching dance classes at the age of 12 at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. In addition, to teaching Kashani was awarded a scholarship to study at Broadway Dance Center with professional teachers such as Frank Hatchett. The scholarship led to other professional training opportunities with the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Djoniba Dance and Drum Centre and the Alvin Ailey School.
K.S. J.A.M.M. Dance Troupe was founded in 1988, at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, by Kashani Stokley and his youth counselor Stan Morse. Mr. Morse encouraged him at the age of 12, to share his passion for dance with other youth in the community.
K.S. J.A.M.M. Dance Troupe’s mission is to provide youth and young adults from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with a means of self-expression and self-development through exceptional dance, choreography and costuming. The Troupe's name was established in 1994, by taking the first initial of each of the original members’ name:
K.ashani S.helly J.aphia A.frica M.alesha M.elanie
Since then, K.S. J.A.M.M. Dance Troupe has produced (31) annual recitals, offered classes to over 1,000 students, been exhibited in the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society and the Society for Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant’s traveling exhibit “The Crown Heights History Project” in 1994. Past collaborators and clients include the Museum for African Art, Boys and Girls High School African Street Festival, Interfaith Medical Center, George V. Brower Public School 289, Prospect Heights High School and Miller Christian Church.
During its 12th year, K.S. J.A.M.M. Dance Troupe had to cope with the untimely passing of an extraordinary dancer, choreographer and friend Shelly Thompson. As a tribute to Shelly, the annual Dancer of the Year Award was re-named “The Shelly Thompson Dancer of the Year Award”. This award recognizes a student who has exhibited exceptional dance capability, desired interest, overwhelming commitment and dedication to his/her self-development through dance.
The 10-Month September through June Instructional Cycle, allows youth 3 years old through young adult to learn dance techniques and choreography in Modern, Jazz, Tap, African and Hip-Hop dance. The culmination of the year’s work is presented in an annual June recital, attended by an average audience of 600 family members, friends, guest and members of the local community.