The storied career of Jordan McMahon and his dancing


Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Jodi Crandell

Jordan McMahon displays energy and intensity during a performance at the 2015 Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation Fundraiser.

by Erin Jones , Staff Writer

For Jordan McMahon (‘16), dancing has always been second nature. Whenever music came on, Jordan always gravitated towards it and started dancing along to the beat.

Jordan’s Parents, Jim and Elizabeth McMahon, did not let this go unnoticed. They can recall Jordan dancing along to cartoon show theme songs when he was just three years old.

“I would catch him dancing in front of the TV to the Clifford the Big Red dog theme song when he was around 3 or 4 years old.  He would get mad at me if I tried to sneak a peek at him, so I had to be careful,” says Elizabeth, “But I loved seeing him dance so joyfully to the same tune each day as Clifford was one of his favorite shows growing up.”

Jordan’s love for dancing only got more powerful and recognized as he grew older. It was almost impossible to see Jordan sit still when his ear caught the sound of music. This would soon develop into a strong passion in the years to come.

“My parents said that ever since I was a little kid, when music came on, I would just start to move so it’s always been something that’s kind of been in me and that I have enjoyed,” McMahon recalls, “I think I just eventually expressed it to my parents and they were all for it so in elementary school I just started classes.”

As Jordan got older, his talent for dance started to increase. This was the moment that Jordan knew that he had a passion for dance. He knew that he needed guidance and structure to help him develop into a dancer that he hoped to become.

It was not until the fourth grade that Jordan “officially” started dancing. Byrd School dance was where he started to learn the fundamentals of dance. He learned the basics that would guide him throughout the rest of his dancing career.

“It was clear Jordan loved music and had great musicality and rhythm in elementary school, but his gift for dance did not begin to become evident until middle school,” Jim says.

Little did this premature dancer know that in the years to come, he would develop into a phenomenal dancer with a long career ahead of him.

Over the next few years, Jordan has transferred to three different dance studios. These three studios all contributed to a unique and skilled style of dancing. At these studios, Jordan learned how to transform himself from a young timid dancer into a graceful and skillful one.

“Well I started at Byrd School dance, to RHPAC, and then I went to Art of Motion where I am now, “ Jordan says.

From ballet, to jazz, to hip hop — Jordan does it all.

Yet out of every category of dance, there is one that Jordan holds closest to his heart: modern dance.

Modern dance is an expressive dance in which the dancer uses his entire body to express emotion in a fluid and theatrical way.  Unlike ballet, modern dance is unrestricted with little to no structure.

“My favorite type of dance would be modern because it’s kind of a mixture of a lot of things and you can really express yourself through your movement through this type of dance,” Jordan says.

For Jordan, there is no style of dance that he does not enjoy. However, ballet challenges Jordan like no other. Unlike his favorite class, Modern, ballet is a very structured and technique based style of dance.

“I wouldn’t say I have a least favorite but I would say that the most challenging and what doesn’t really work with my body  the most would be ballet,” Jordan says.

When there is dance along comes the music. The two practically go hand in hand. Every dancer has their favorite genre of music to accompany their dancing. Out of the hundreds of genres, pop is Jordan’s favorite.

Artist like Rihanna and Beyoncé have inspired Jordan’s dance career significantly. Their upbeat and unique songs seem to match perfectly with Jordan’s free-spirited dancing. These two artists, Rihanna in particular, have significantly impacted and shaped Jordan as a dancer as well as a person.

“I always liked pop because you know there’s always cool beats and stuff which allows you to do cool things with your body but I do like you know slowed down and upbeat music  because it allows for me  to move  your body in different ways and express different things,” McMahon says.

Jordan not only dances to the routines constructed by his dance teachers a Art of Motion but he also creates his own routines.

He recently performed these routines at the Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation Fundraiser this past March. His routines varied from upbeat fast paced to slow more romantic routines.

Along with his routine dances, Jordan performed two improv performances which one was accompanied by Beyoncés “I Was Here” dedicated to his late friend Christopher Barron. This left the crowd in complete awe. This is a prime example as to why he has a such a passion for dance. Jordan considers this one of his favorite aspects of dance; how you can leave an impression on someone with no words just by the movements of your body.

“My favorite part would be how you can tell a story without saying any words,” Jordan says.

Throughout Jordan’s seven year dance career, he has performed in everything from recitals to even a flashmob for a wedding. At Art of Motion, Jordan’s current dance studio, there are two opportunities to show adults, peers, friends, and more what the dance studio has been practicing and working on.

“I have two recitals a year, one is a holiday show and one is a Spring show and I also have my own fundraiser that I do,” McMahon said.

Jordan does not let his talent go to waste. For the past three years, Jordan has put together a fundraiser in memory of his late friend. At this fundraiser, students like him get to display their talents such as singing and dancing for a large and eager crowd.

This particular Fundraiser is known as The Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation Fundraiser. Christopher Barron was Jordan’s best friends growing up who unfortunately lost his battle with Cancer a couple of years ago. Dancing in this fundraiser created some of the best memories of Jordan’s dancing career.

“This fundraiser has been the thing that  I really have been able to express my dancing as much as possible and that has been my main thing in terms of my dancing because it’s the one place I can really show my dancing of to a big crowd including my fellow peers,” Jordan explains.

“I am most proud of how Jordan has taken his love of dance and wanted to use it to help Christopher’s foundation,” Jim adds, “ Jordan came up with this idea on his own freshman year and it has been such a wonderful outlet to help a cause close to our hearts and help celebrate Christopher’s life as dancing and singing is really a celebration of life.”

Out of every event that Jordan has ever performed, there seems to be one that is the fan favorite. This is The Christopher Barron Live Life Foundation Fundraiser. Here, people of all ages are able to experience extremely talented youths express themselves on stage. You not only get to watch raw talent, but you also get to raise funds for a great cause.

Jordan’s family all seem to to have their fondest memories of Jordan’s dance career at this event. Jordan has put  his heart and soul into this event for the past three years. With each performance that he is involved with in this event, it’s hard for this not to be a favorite.

“ My fondest memory of Jordan dancing is when he organized the first annual Christopher Barron Foundation fundraiser.  He came out for his first solo to his favorite musical Artist Rihanna and he was amazing – you could see how happy he was dancing and the crowd loved it as well – it was an amazing moment – the start of a new tradition we did not even know would spark,” Elizabeth explains.

“My favorite event is definitely the Christopher Barron Foundation Fundraiser. I look forward to it every single year,” Rachel McMahon (18’) adds.

For basketball fans there is the NBA, college basketball, and March madness. For football fans there is the NFL,Sunday night football, and the Super Bowl.  For Jordan, “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars” are the equivalent to all of these.  “So You Think You Can Dance” is Jordan’s all-time favorite.

So You Think You Can Dance is a dance competition that has been broadcasted on FOX for the past ten years. Dancers compete to come out on top as they are being criticized or praised by celebrity judges.  At the same time, the viewers are sending in their votes to see which dancer will stay on the show until the finale.

“I definitely watch a lot of “So You Think You Can Dance” that’s my main go to show. I do enjoy “Dancing with the Stars” but “So You Think You Can Dance” is easily the best,” Jordan explains.

Lucky for Jordan, the support for his dancing is overwhelming. Not a lot of people are fortunate enough to have the support he has. This not only comes from his friends, but also from his family. His sister, Rachel McMahon, is a huge supporter of her brother. You could say that she is his number one fan.

“I always do my best to let him know how talented I really think he is and I’m always extremely complimentary of everything he performs,” says Rachel, “I actually love being able to brag to my friends about how amazing it is to watch him dance and they always get that opportunity at the fundraiser.”

With all the support that comes from Jordan’s little sister there is also a touch of jealousy. Considering how talented Jordan is at what he does, it is hard not to be somewhat jealous.

Every time is watch Jordan dance I envy him for it because dance is so different from any other sport or hobby. It’s so special and personal and I wish I was capable of doing what he can do,” Rachel explains.

Jordan dancing has impacted a lot of people throughout the years. His dancing has impacted people in a positive way, especially his family members. He has a gift that he has taken advantage of to change people for the better.

“Jordan’s dancing has impacted my life in a positive way.  I love that he has discovered one of his gifts at a young age and has time to grow, enjoy and figure out how he wants to incorporate this into his life. It makes me happy to see him work so hard at something that he loves to do and that makes him happy,” Elizabeth says.

Jordan’s dance career has been fully supported by his family since day one.Their support has been a vital aspect of Jordan’s success  He has not only impacted their lives significantly throughout the years, but they have also impacted his dance life.

“I think we have impacted Jordan’s dance career by encouraging him to go outside of his comfort zone and take dance classes when he was younger and unsure. Sometimes you need a nudge and we encouraging him to just give it a try,” Elizabeth McMahon says.

Every dancer is different. Jordan’s skill and passion for dance sets him apart from every other dancer. He puts 110% everytime he steps on stage or even in the dance studio practicing, especially in his solos.

All of his effort and dedication  shines whenever he performs. Which is why he always leaves  people in chills or wanting more after his performances.

“When he performs solos, it is always choreographed by him. He chooses the song, creates the dance, and makes it come alive with so much emotion on stage which being his sister, watching that literally gives me chills,” Rachel says.

In every extracurricular activity, there are always positive aspects and negative aspects. For Jordan, teaching fellow dancers routines and new choreography is definitely one of the most aggravating and straining aspects of what he does.

When the dancers finally get it and it clicks, Jordan finds it to be very rewarding and satisfying in the end. All the blood, sweat, and tears pay off when the performance goes without a hitch.

“I guess it would be the coordination of everything. With dance there is so much more like when you’re teaching someone a dance it’s really hard  to get them to  move how you want  to because everyone  has a different  body of movement so that would be the most challenging part because I don’t have a least favorite part  just some parts are more challenging than others,” Jordan explains when asked about his least favorite part of dancing.

As Jordan grows older and the college search approaches,he seems to be stuck at a crossroad. He is trying to figure out whether or not he would like to continue his dance career in college. This decision is still up in the air. whether or not Jordan plans on Majoring in dance in college, he still wants to be involved in dance one way or another.

“Continuing my dance career in college still up in the air but I would like to at least if I’m not majoring in dance in college, I would still like to have that be part of my life in college.”

Whatever decision that is made Jordan has his parent’s full support. If their son is happy, so are they. the support of his family has played a huge role in Jordan’s success.

“I would very much like Jordan to dance in college – whether it be as part of his studies or as a co-curricular activity. I hope dance remains a part of his journey,” Jim says.

“I want Jordan to dance in college if Jordan wants to dance in college,” Elizabeth explains.

With everything Jordan has accomplished at such a young age, it is hard not to imagine how bright his dancing career will be in the years to come.

“Jordan is the most important person in my life so I hope he gets everything he has ever wanted in the future and I hope dance becomes a real career for him because he is already so young and so talented,” rachel says.

“I hope that dance continues to be a part of Jordan’s life whether he does it as part of his future profession or just for fun as it is a great source of joy, exercise and release for him. I hope Jordan always finds time to dance,” Elizabeth adds.