Miss Ksyn, pronounced Kay-Sin, has become a regular in the professional dance world.
For the past nine years she’s done tours and performances with the likes of Sean Paul, Ciara, and N.E.R.D. She’s also appeared in videos for Alicia Keys, Mary J Blige, and Usher, to name a few.
But her most noted work to date has been with Beyonce, who she’s been dancing for, off and on, for the past 9 years. Formation is her latest project with the pop queen, adding the video to her long list of credits. But it was the performance of the song at this year’s Super Bowl that had everyone talking. Ksyn was one of the 30 plus dancers clad in an afro wig and an all black outfit inspired by the Black Panthers. The moment they stepped onto the field, Black Girl Magic was in full beam.
We caught up with Ksyn to find out what it was like to be a part of that performance and her fearlessness when it comes to her career as a dancer.
When did you begin dancing?
Professionally I started dancing in the industry after college, but I was a part of a youth organization called teens in motion that was based in the Bronx. It was an after school program created to help keep us off the streets and out of trouble. We were known for stepping, then they added dancing, modeling, and acting. Technically I would probably say from the age of 13 was when I actually started performing. We performed at the White House of Bill Clinton, we performed almost all over the world, stepping. So that was like my first introduction into what could possibly be.
Then I went away to school and came back and I was like, alright, I got these degrees, so. I went to Franklin Pierce College, which is now Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
On The Run tour, via Ksyn IG page
What did you study?
Arts management with a concentration in dance. I Graduated and started modeling first. I wanted to do runway for so long but with my body type I was like, okay, that’s not going to work. I always had this sexy side of me. I started out doing magazines like Smooth and King and then doing music videos and I would always be the freestyle dancer in the music videos and then I found an agency, a dance agency, through a gig that I was on. And it’s been smooth sailing every since.
How does it feel knowing you were a part of Beyonce’s last Super Bowl performance considering all of the praise it’s gotten?
It feels amazing. Just the message that I felt from it was amazing. It just felt good to be performing for an artist of that platform on one of the biggest platforms there is. We watch everything else, but Super Bowl is one of the biggest platforms there is and it’s crazy because they actually did a special about Super Bowl and about how a lot of artists take the Super Bowl stage as a platform to voice what they feel. To do that with 30 amazing women of color, all talented, all from different walks of life, and to get out there an just…it was almost like a, ‘just in case you didn’t know, black is beautiful’ moment. It just felt amazing. I don’t even think words could fully describe how it felt. Definitely a monumental moment.
Did you ladies know what you would be wearing before the performance? Or how did if feel when you found out what you would be wearing?
We didn’t really have a full idea until closer to the Super Bowl. Only because you have to do dress rehearsals and we wear all black in rehearsals anyway, so we didn’t think anything of it. At first it was just like, ‘oh, okay, the outfit is going to be black.’ For Super Bowl 48, we wore black.
Then they said, we think we might put you guys all in the same hair, and we said, ‘oh, okay.’ Then next thing you know, we’re like, ‘oh, we’re all wearing fros. Great, this is amazing.’ So it was sort of a process as far as we were concerned. Like when you rehearse you’re more concerned with getting the routine together and getting everything the way it should be or the way they would like it to be. Then wardrobe and stuff comes later.
So when you finally put on the outfit and you looked at all of the dancers around you, what did that feel like for you ladies, looking at each other, and the photos that you took backstage, how did that feel and what was that process like?
It felt powerful. It felt really powerful. Each of us as dancers basically have a different interpretation of that moment. We can’t speak on the whole idea from [Beyonce’s] perspective because we won’t know that. But from our perspective, personally it just felt powerful. It felt good to look around and see that. It wasn’t a bashing of anything, to me it was an appreciation of my culture and of my history. If we really think about it in our own lives most of us wouldn’t be where we are today and doing what we’re doing today without the people who basically paved the way for that. So it was one of those moments for me. It was very much like a dream. When I stepped on the field and looked around I was like wow, okay I think everybody else’s faces were like wow. It just felt really good and monumental.
Beyonce also shared a video of you guys backstage on the tour bus singing and rehearing your steps. What’s a day in the life like on tour with Beyonce?
Usually we’re probably hopping off a bus leaving the last show and heading to the next city. You might have a little bit of your mornings off and then you of course you go to sound check. You kind of have time to do a little bit of what you want to do, especially if it’s a place you’ve never been. Then we head out to sound check somewhere in the afternoon. Once we get to the venue we sound check, we might rehearse a little bit, we eat together, then it’s time to start doing your makeup and your hair.
You guys do your own makeup for shows with Beyonce. That’s pretty impressive. What are your secrets?
Practice, practice, and practice. I was into makeup way before I started [dancing professionally]. I used to do beauty pageants so for me, makeup has evolved and my process has evolved. So I was sort of like the experimental one, especially on the Mrs. Carter Show tour. I would be the one to go, ‘Ok, you know what, let’s see if I wear this purplish lipstick. Will they say anything? Will it be okay? No, they thought it was great. Cool.’ Or, ‘Let me wear this navy blue lipstick.’ That was sort of me. Everybody has their own take on how they do makeup, like I have my 48 brushes that I roll out. Then you might have somebody next to me who is like, ‘Alright I have 4 brushes’ and their makeup looks flawless too.
So we all have our own different ways of doing things. But yeah, we do our hair and makeup, warm up a bit, then it’s time to go in for prayer circle, and then it’s time to start the show. Right after the show we run back, take our showers, change our clothes, then hop right back on that bus. On to the next city. It’s very fast paced.
You’re also an actress and you’ve worked with some pretty notable people. What’s it been like to step outside of the dance world and be an actress?
It’s nerve wracking. Just because you’re so used to [dancing] and on tour, you have that one shot. After you get on that stage, you have two hours. After that two hours you can rest. In the beginning [acting] was an adjustment for me because it was like, ‘okay wait, if one of us messed up or I didn’t like the way I delivered that, we can do it again? Oh, okay.’ It was definitely one of those moments. It’s exciting for me just because it’s something totally different from dancing but still just as expressive.
What’s next for you?
I have a class that I started for women. It’s called “Body Language: The Art of Seduction,” and of course taking that and making it bigger. It’s basically a platform I sort of created for women to basically find their sexy and get their sexy back if they feel like they lost it, because as women we forget that it’s okay to be sexy and that sexy isn’t always “T&A,” it’s about a feeling. You have to be able to walk, talk, and fill up a room with that kind of energy. You can do that whether your clothes are on or off. We have to know how to find that happiness ourselves and within ourselves. So that’s basically what the class is about. But of course it is through the art of strip tease because we like to feel sexy, so it’s a red light special. You bring your heels and I teach you different moves that you can use when you go to the club and at home. It’s like a secret workout at the same time.
I’m trying to expand my class to different parts of the tri-state area. And we’re doing kind of a tour which is what we’re setting up now. So far I’ve taught in Boston, Jersey, New York. We’re going to broaden that this year and hit up different States as well.
What advice do you have for aspiring performers.
Something that I’ve learned is to be comfortable being you. If it’s something that you really want to do that you aspire to do, don’t always think you need a million supporters behind you because you’ll be your biggest support system and your biggest team. The people that genuinely see your vision and support you and your vision, they become your support system naturally.
How does your mom feel now? She put you in ballet in the beginning and now you’re a successful dancer.
In the beginning after college, no parent wants to hear that their child wants to become a dancer. There was a little back and forth especially in the beginning. It took for me to pop up one day and say, ‘hey don’t forget to watch 106 & Park, I’m going to be dancing with Sean Kingston.’ She said, ‘yeah, alright, whatever.’ Then everybody turns on the TV and sees me right there. My mom was like, ‘I thought you were joking.’ I was like, ‘when have I joked about any of this stuff? When I said this is what I want to do, this is what I’m going to do whether you support me or not. Either you’re going to be a part of the acceptance speech where I say I’d like to thank my mom for all her support. Or you’re going to be a part of the acceptance speech where I say I’d like to thank my mom for all of the non support. She was like ‘I would rather be on the side saying thank you for the support because I support you, it’s that I know it’s a hard field.’ I said, ‘right, and I’m a tough cookie.’
For more information on Ksyn and details on how to sign up for her classes visit her website.