Dancer Donald Isom elevates Krump in Columbus

“Hey, Columbus, Krump is here now.”

That's the message dancer Donald Isom hopes to send with I Am D.A.N.C.E. Weekend, which will include a Krumping workshop on Friday, June 28, and a tournament on Saturday, June 29 — both at the Columbus Dance Theatre. The event will close with a cookout on Sunday.

“We have a lot of people coming from different cities and states,” Isom said. “These are people that you see on YouTube battling around the world.”

A wildly expressive street dance, Krump originated in South Central, Los Angeles, and gained exposure through David LaChapelle's documentary, Rize, and TV shows like “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Originally from Cleveland, Isom began dancing at a young age, learning from family members and studying old video tapes of the Jackson 5, “Soul Train” episodes and more. After discovering Krump and subsequently teaching and building a community around the art form, he hopped on a bus to Columbus for better opportunities.

Living with a friend who attended Ohio State University, Isom started practicing in the school's dance studios and gained recognition at a talent show on campus. Since then, he's traveled the world and trained with renowned dancers. This fall, he will teach hip-hop dance classes at OSU.

In 2011, he founded I Am D.A.N.C.E. (Determined And Never Concealing Energy), a creative and performing-arts company that provides a platform for artists of all types.

“Don't conceal how great you are and how beautiful you are, regardless of your sexuality, your skin, your gender, anything,” Isom said, explaining the philosophy behind I Am D.A.N.C.E. “You might be walking away from the blessing.”

“I was encouraged and pushed to study myself,” said dancer Olaniyi Gaiusbayode, who discovered his love of Latin styles and became a teacher after joining I Am D.A.N.C.E. He's also been inspired to think about the philosophy behind dance in general. “Dancing is an ancestral thing that shows us who we were as people, and how we are [today],” he said.

Isom is also utilizing his company to change perceptions about street dancing.

“They don't know that we can perform on a professional theater stage,” Isom said. “We don't always need the hip-hop beat.”

With I Am D.A.N.C.E. Weekend taking place at the Columbus Dance Theatre, it exposes other dancers to the Krump style. And anyone can sign up to participate in the tournament.

“We're basically bringing two worlds together,” Isom said, explaining that people can expect both an educational and high-energy weekend.

“Don't be surprised if you drive by and you hear a lot of screaming.”