Woman creates West End dance team to give kids outlet from violence
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Tri-State dance team is putting the West End on the map as their dance moves have taken them on trips around the world.
Marquicia Jones-Woods started Q-Kidz 42 years ago when she was just a teen.
The idea for the dance team started after she says she witnessed repeated violence in the neighborhood because kids did not have an outlet. So, she created one for them.
With many kids coming through the studio’s doors on Linn Street, Jones-Woods has seen the positive impact Q-Kidz has had.
The Q-Kidz dance team is making major moves across the country, adding to their collection of winning trophies from dance competitions where ever they go.
“We’ve been a winning team our whole time with Q-Kidz. Every now and then, we may get a second place or a third place,” says Jones-Woods.
However, Jones-Woods says it is always a win for her when she sees where her girls started and how they’ve grown once they leave the dance program.
“The main thing that stands out with me, with my girls, is a lot of them come in and they don’t have the confidence that they need to walk in a room and own a room,” explains Jones-Woods. “I teach them to walk in a room and own it.”
It did take some time for Q-Kidz to evolve into what it is today.
Marquicia, who her girls call Ms. Quincy, says she grew up in the West End and after seeing shootings and drugs take over the neighborhood, she wanted to bring a change providing an alternative for others in the community getting them off the streets.
“I knew I needed to do something in my community that would create an environment that would make them have a vested interest in where they live,” said Jones-Woods. “It was public housing; it was a lot of hustle and bustle going on, so I wanted to give them something positive to do to put back in the community so that they felt good about where they lived and what they were doing.”
At just 15 years old, she created Q-Kidz, which she says didn’t start as the dance team we know today.
“It started as them acting and painting the rocks and painting the mailboxes trying to make public housing look better on the outside and I had to keep changing it up,” she recalls. “Trying to find something that would keep them. I actually have boys and girls, but the boys went off to play sports and stuff. They started getting into the sports game and then I was stuck with all these girls, and I knew they loved dance and dance kept them coming every day and that’s how I got stuck with dance. I’m not a dancer. I’m not a ballerina or anything, but it was what kept them.”
Q-Kidz has caught the eyes of some around the world with the dance team being selected to be in this indie movie “Fits.”
A film that allowed the dancers to also be a part of the Sundance and the Venice Film Festival.
Last year, Q-Kidz was also invited to perform during Super Bowl weekend in Los Angeles as the Bengals took on the Rams.
“Just being able to be exposed to that, being able to be in Times Square and perform and dance, just being able to do those things, changes their life,” says Jones-Woods.
And keeps them on track.
Jones-Woods says 90 percent of the girls in the dance company graduate high school and college.
While she says there have been challenges over the years with funding, it’s been critical to making sure the studio stays open.
Each night’s lesson is more than learning the latest dance moves and routines - it’s become a sisterhood.
“My proudest moment is being able to have a space that they can call their own and feel comfortable and not be rushed,” she explained. “A safe haven for them, and you need that in the inner city. You need a place where you can go in case of an emergency, and we’ve been that for 42 years.”
Jones-Woods’ twin daughters are now helping to teach some of the dance routines.
She says in the future, she would like to see Q-Kidz expand into other neighborhoods.
The dance group will perform Thursday at the opening BLINK parade.
This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.
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