31 Days of Dreamers & Doers | Shanketta Newsom
Shanketta Newsome wears many hats as an artist, coach and dance director; not to mention her position as Sr. Consultant Marketing at Union Pacific handling accounts in a division that generates the big bucks! She is the owner of I Heartbeat Dance, LLC - A dance company that she started and created that focuses on developing well rounded confident female leaders in dance, in school and in their communities through workshops and dance camps. She is also a Teaching artist at Nebraska Writers Collective where she teaches and coaches poetry in the LTAB (Louder Than a Bomb), an afterschool program. Her artistry covers writing, singing, poetry and rap. To say she has her hands full would be an understatement.
What is your earliest memory being involved in your business?
I've always loved to dance. As a young child I remember always stealing the show at family reunions, family gatherings, wedding receptions, etc. taking over the dance floor! However, I was a basketball player and did not start formally dancing until my freshmen year of high school. It was a bet with me and one of my close friends to try out for the dance team. From there, I knew I was created to dance and teach dance. My Sophomore year I became team captain. The rest is history. Outside of my high school dance team (North Panola High- NP Jewels), I danced on a state dance team called R.A.T. Pack (Reject All Tobacco). The team was originally Jackson based. When I went to try out and made it they developed a North MS team to accommodate. (Super proud moment). I went on to dance at Jackson State University as a Prancing J-Sette and became captain. This is when I started teaching dance at camps or workshops. So my passion grew more for teaching vs. performing.
Post college I didn't dance anymore until 2013. I got a call from a soror in Atlanta, GA to be an instructor at their HBCU Dance majorette dance camp! This is what lit the fire again. In 2017 I decided to not be afraid and pursue what I love and what I felt like my purpose was. So, that's when I Heartbeat Dance was formed. If you have a heartbeat you still have purpose!
SN: When it comes to poetry, I've been writing poems and wraps since I was in elementary. My little sister still knows all the lyrics and words. The only poem I can remember is poem called "Conversation" that I wrote in 2009. My first time ever saying my poetry or performing my pieces in front of people was terrifying and therapeutic at the same time! I started going to open mics in Omaha in 2015 when I moved back. Verbal Gumbo was the birthing place of my stage presence with poetry. After making the slam team in 2017 and competing nationally I knew I had a gift with words! Performing seems to be my strength. So when I was approached to coach/teach high school students I could not turn it down! I always wanted to be a teacher or lawyer growing up, but I decided differently when I went to college and saw the wages of teachers and the years of schooling required to be a lawyer (lol). So teaching LTAB students gives me the best of both worlds and I LOVE IT!!! I cry every time I leave our sessions.
SN: My grandmother would say since I was old enough to form words I would be all around the house singing and dancing. I literally thought I was Michael Jackson growing up (lol). No one could tell me any different. I use to sing at all the talent shows. I even made it to state competing back home. You name it, I did it when it came to music. Music was literally my therapy. I have notebooks with lyrics. I'm still trying to embrace the I'm a rapper thing. lol I just like to say I'm an artist. All things music I love whether it's singing or rapping. After a few viral videos I was like oh... people actually like what I have to say. So why not pursue it. Words are very powerful and influential so I don't take it lightly.
Last year, Shanketta was featured in the November/December issue of Omaha Magazine with a 'National Poetry Slam Debut'. Another great accomplishment for the young artist.
10 years ago would you have pictured yourself in this position?
Ummm not really! I've always dreamed big but I started focusing on other things, so I would say no. I got distracted by societies standards of success and starting making 5 & 10 year goals that were centered around monetary value and possessions! After experiencing some tough family issues my focus shifted and I realized that living a life with goals that are not aligned with your purpose is not living at all!
How do you hope people feel after working with you?
AMAZING! INSPIRED! Like they can do and accomplish anything! BRAVE! CONFIDENT! BOLD! LOVED! APPRECIATED! I mean the list goes on. I always push people to be their best! If they are scared they won't be after a session with me whether it's dance, poetry, their 9-5 job, you name it!
Can you name a highlight of your career?
My recent dance camp! I had 48 girls! 48 young girls from ages 7-19 that I got the opportunity to pour into! It's truly a blessing to see your dreams unfold before your eyes. It's a highlight to me because I doubted the process. To me it's so much more than just dancing. Dancing changed my life! Dancing is what helped build my confidence as a teen, my endurance, my leadership abilities, kept me out of trouble, and helped me learn how to foster healthy relationships with other girls. So to be able to do that and provide that type of environment and opportunity for other girls is rewarding!!!
Anything you’d go back and change?
Nope not at all! Every single thing we go through is what shapes and molds us to be the individuals we are today. The successes, the failures, the good times and hardships all push us towards our destiny if we let them.
Do not be afraid to use your gifts and talents and walk in your purpose! Remember that we are all connected. Our gifts and talents are to be used to help others. When we selfishly sit on them we are prolonging or hindering someone else from walking in their purpose/destiny. So thank you to everyone who is walking in purpose! I know it hasn't been easy! So thank you for not quitting! You have helped me and opened doors for me to flourish in mine!