Once, he was known as the “Face of Urban Jamm.”
Now, he has returned home to become the face of Bolingbrook Park District’s widely acclaimed Danceforce troupe.
And Joe Fields, 22, is turning his passion for dance into a tool to help the youngsters he teaches grow up. His life has come full circle since he first learned how to express himself in the Danceforce program he now assists in directing.
Fields is a life-long Bolingbrook resident who trained at the park district from the time he was in fourth grade until he graduated from high school. He attended Neuqua Valley and then went on to study for one year at the Point Park University of Fine Arts in Pittsburgh.
He was picked from a pool of 3,500 dancers across the nation as Urban Jamm’s most well-rounded dancer in 2007. The honor led to trip to Los Angeles for a photo shoot, meetings with talent agents and scholarship classes at some of L.A.’s premier dance studios.
More recently, he has put Hollywood in his rearview mirror. And he has put order back in his life by turning “old” into “new” again.
“Being back here—at Danceforce working with these kids—it comes full circle in my life, I think, to be able to give to them what the program gave to me,” Fields said. “It gave me a sense of belonging and purpose, confidence. At that point in time, it was like a second home for me and a family.”
And, now, as he goes about his business in a room full of the next generation of Bolingbrook dance stars, it’s like he never left. Even on that rare occasion when someone dares to question his creative process, Fields needs only to point toward the back of his black T-shirt and the white lettering. It reads: “You wouldn’t understand … it’s a dance thing!”
He works with a range of children that spans from kindergarten newbies to high school level dreamers, many who have spent the summer completing a training regimen and now are preparing to participate in conventions, competitions and educational field trips. Fields and others will direct them as they show off elements of jazz, hip-hop, ballet, lyrical and tap dances.
“I try to teach self-love and self-empowerment,” Fields said. “I try to make it clear that as long as you believe in yourself the possibilities are absolutely limitless. It sounds weird saying that, but through my life I have found that to be true. You just have to believe in yourself—for real.”
He doesn’t judge his students strictly on performance.
“I try to teach in a way that’s not only about dancing,” Fields said. “It’s not about winning or any of that stuff. It’s more trying to get people to be comfortable with who they are and not to be afraid to express themselves.”
Everything else is gravy.
“I don’t share, actually, any stories of Hollywood and that whole scene,” Fields said. “I really try to focus on being what I want them to be, kind of, and just living in the manner that makes myself happy. I want them to not be afraid of who they are or to not be afraid of anything, really, and just to go for anything they want in their lives.”