Not even in high school yet, 14-year-old eighth-grader Darius Stokes basically has a part-time job. Spending about 20 hours a week at Candy Apple’s Dance Center, the young dancer has a lot to show for the time and effort he puts forth. He has won several dance awards, including Mr. Dance Jr. for Kid’s Artistic Revue, Mr. Jr. Dynamite Dance, Mr. Jr. Ultimate Dance, Mr. Teen Ultimate Dance, Teen Mr. Extreme Dance and the Most Photogenic Award.
Along with dance awards, Darius also was chosen to do a spot in a commercial for the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services in 2011. He can be seen locally on billboards for the Stark County Department of Job and Family Services as well. To add to the list, he was named as one of Stark County’s most interesting people in 2013 for The Repository.
But don’t let his many accomplishments fool you. Darius is as modest as they come. When asked if he has gained any kind of fame from his awards, he answered quietly with a short, “I guess you could say that.”
His mother, Lori Stokes, added, “He’s so modest. His friends adore him. And all his dance friends here, they’re like ‘I see Darius.’ … so he’s just very modest with it. It’s not a big deal to him, but it’s a big deal to his outside world.”
It was apparent that Lori is proud of her son, and that he appreciates his mother and her support. Along with his mother, Darius’ older brother and three sisters support him and his accomplishments in dancing and acting. (His father passed away a few years ago.)
“You know throughout everything, they’re like still with me, and they never give up on me. And they always have faith in me,” he said of his family.
Darius did not always feel comfortable dancing. He has been dancing since he was 3, and he has experienced some nerves. Based on his experiences, he said that he would advise dancers just starting out not to let their nerves bother them.
“Don’t be nervous about it. That was one thing when I was younger, I was nervous about dancing especially because I’m a boy. Most kids try to make fun of you, but try to ignore it. I know it’s hard, but just if you like it, then try it,” Darius said.
Not only does he dance for Candy Apple’s Dance Center, he sings and dances with Oakwood Middle School’s show choir, the Treblemakers. With all of that on his plate, Darius also is on the football and basketball teams, and he finds plenty of time to volunteer.
Darius said he volunteers “because I understand that not everyone has the opportunity to get everything they want in life. And it’s good to help instead of just sitting around and never helping anybody.”
While being involved in dance, sports and volunteering, he mentioned that he sometimes has to swap schedules and share time between sports and dance. And he always tries to schedule a study hall during his school day to keep his honor roll status. Darius mentioned his schedule might change when he enters high school in the fall.
With such a busy schedule, Darius said he has learned to keep all of his priorities in check. He has big plans for his future, as well. He hopes to make it to the NFL or the NBA, with the NFL being his first choice. He mentioned that acting is a choice as well.
“I think if I don’t make it through sports, I could see myself in acting or possibly being a doctor because that’s what I want to be.”
In Very Fine Arts, read our interviews with visual artists, performers and an art teacher who talk work, life and why sometimes work is life.