Custom Search
CivicLifeSportsSchoolsBusinessFoodOur HomesLetters/OpinionsCalendar

Published September 21st, 2016
Bringing Joy and Motion to Lamorindans of All Ages
Joy in Motion founders Justin Cole and Linda Craig. Photo GenFphoto/Monica Fitzsimmons

Two years ago, Justin Cole dressed as the Energizer Bunny for Halloween. There is unquestionably not a more appropriate costume for this bundle of energy.
Cole, co-founder of Lamorinda's Joy in Motion, is a performer, choreographer, dance and theater instructor, involved parent and enthusiastically committed community member. Believing it is within everyone's reach "to attain what they want," Cole tells each of his students to "work hard, follow your dreams and never say 'I wish I would have ...'" This is the philosophy by which he lives.
The East Bay native knew, as a third-grader, that he wanted to be a professional dancer. And this was despite the fact that he had never taken a dance class, never even danced. "I saw my very first music video - Madonna's 'Lucky Star.' I was mesmerized," Cole fondly remembered. The next time he saw a music video, it was again Madonna. "This one had a little boy, in a hat, dancing. I wanted to be him."
But Cole was involved in other activities, including soccer and Boy Scouts. He performed in school plays, and "loved it," but his energies were focused elsewhere. Until high school, that is, when he landed a role in the school's production of "42nd Street" and learned to tap dance.
"As soon as I put those tap shoes on, it truly, literally, changed the course of my life," he recalled. And then his high school became a performing arts school. Cole quit soccer and for the next two years, his unbridled energy went into the performing arts (although he did continue with Boy Scouts, earning his Eagle Scout badge). Dance classes followed, as did studying lyrical theater at San Francisco State University. And then, as often happens, Cole was thrown a curve ball. His parents divorced, left the area and, at 21, he suddenly became owner of the family home, meaning financial responsibilities. Working in the mortgage business, Cole suddenly felt stuck. "The money was good, but the job sucked the life out of me," he said.
Continuing with what he loved, Cole kept taking dance classes and performing in local productions. He also began teaching a hip-hop class. "I basically taught myself hip-hop," he said, by going to clubs and watching videos. "I loved being funky, loved Janet Jackson, Britney Spears. I watched those girls and learned every move."
In 2000, Cole's persistence paid off. "I got a call from CAPA (California Academy of Performing Arts), offering me a position teaching tap," he reported. This one class soon evolved into more, until eventually Cole was teaching 18 classes a week at CAPA. As soon as he could afford to, he quit the mortgage business.
Two years ago, Cole and Linda Craig, a CAPA colleague, decided to form their own dance company and the nonprofit Joy in Motion was born.
Cole explained that many dance studios are very regimented and he and Craig wanted to offer dance to those that might not always have the opportunity, including boys, special needs children and adults. "We want kids that have other activities, who may be involved in sports," he said. "Dance is fun, it doesn't have to be so intense. I don't want a student to stress about missing a class because there's a conflict with something else important.
"I've never been happier in my life," Cole stated proudly. A look at Joy in Motion's fall schedule, which includes more than 300 young students, indicates just how popular this program is - almost every class is full.
Cole, with his enormous amount of energy, is also deeply committed to his community. He's on the board of the Lamorinda Arts Council; works with the Peter Pan Foundation; serves as VP of Family Connections at Orinda's Wagner Ranch Elementary School, where his son, Trenton, is a fourth-grader; teaches an enrichment class in El Sobrante; and still teaches a dance class in El Cerrito, the very studio where he studied dance all those years ago. Next week, Cole, a popular event host, will emcee a dance-a-thon in Orinda, a fundraiser for the Bay Area Crisis Nursery. (See sidebar for details.)
As excited as Cole is for each of these incredible opportunities, one of the "biggest things I've ever done," is happening in November. Dance for Kindness, sponsored by Life Vest Inside, has asked Cole to choreograph its worldwide freeze mob/ flash mob. Last year, 12,000 dancers from 100 cities in 50 countries all danced the same dance to the same song on the same day.
Cole has created the dance and filmed the tutorial.
"This is so overwhelming to me. It's amazing and super exciting," he said. "After all, kindness is what keeps the world afloat and both kindness and dance are universal."
Dance-a-thon Planned on Sept. 25

Joy in Motion's Justin Cole has joined forces with Orindan Sharon McGinnis Girdlesone, owner of My Sustainable Table, to host a fun and charitable dance-a-thon for kids of all ages. There will be food, games, contests, prizes and a raffle drawing for an incredible basket containing more than $1,000 worth of goodies. And there will be dancing: disco, hip-hop, breakdancing, limbo, maybe even a cha-cha or samba.
Cole will serve as the afternoon's emcee and dancers from around the area will be leading the various dance sessions. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Bay Area Crisis Nursery, a program designed to provide a loving and warm environment for children whose families are facing exceptionally stressful situations.
The Dance-a-thon, open to all kids and their parents, will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 at the Quarry House at Wilder in Orinda. The cost is $39 per child; parents get in for free. Tickets at bayareadanceforacause.com.

Justin Cole leads Lamorinda dancers in the 2015 Dance for Kindness freeze mob/flash mob in Lafayette Plaza. Photo Kelly Zheng

print story

Before you print this article, please remember that it will remain in our archive for you to visit anytime.
download pdf
(use the pdf document for best printing results!)
Send your comment to:
Reach the reporter at:

This article was pulished on Page B2:

Quick Links for LamorindaWeekly.com
send artwork to:
Classified ads
Lamorinda Service Directory
About us and How to Contact us
Letter to the Editor
Send stories or ideas to:
Send sports stories and photos to:
Subscribe to receive a delivered or mailed copy
Subscribe to receive storylinks by email
Our Homes

Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA