Hip-hop dance instructor leads 2 separate lives

Dancer, fingerprint expert to conduct clinic at next week

Posted: Thursday, August 03, 2006

Some people seem to have multiple personalities. Emory Oldaker has two distinct lives.

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By day, he and his wife, Stephanie, operate their five-month-old dance academy in Bridgeport, W.Va. At night, he retreats to his classified existence as a management and program analyst at the federal Department of Justice enclave not far from his home. His divergent skills have led him to become a Miss America judge and a fingerprint expert who helped identify those killed by Hurricane Katrina.

"It's very separate worlds, and they are very intensive fields," Oldaker, 31, said. "It's just two very different passions that I have the opportunity to pursue in my life at this time."

A former Juneau resident with family in town, Oldaker will visit Juneau from Aug. 9 to 11 to teach a three-day hip-hop dance workshop at Centennial Hall.

"This is quite frankly a test, to see how well Juneau responds to this type of activity," he said. "If this goes over well, we plan on making this a bi-yearly or even a quarterly opportunity, where I can bring up my staff."

Hip-Hop Dance Clinic

Guest Instructor Emory Oldaker

When: wednesday-Friday, aug. 9-11.

Where: Centennial Hall.

Hours: 9-12-year-olds, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; 13-18, 1-3 p.m.; adults, 4-6 p.m.

Fee: $60 for the whole program.

"We're looking at the possibility of opening up a facility in the (Mendenhall) Valley, but not until a miracle of money comes our way and we find a decent spot," said his sister-in-law, Tracy Oldaker. "Until then, we really would like to see him come back more often and do a jazz clinic and a ballroom dance clinic."

Oldaker began dancing and tumbling when he was 12 and was soon traveling around the world to study with choreographers. He spent his freshman year at Juneau-Douglas High School, where he was frustrated by the lack of dance opportunities.

"When I was there, I didn't have the opportunity to take the types of dance classes I wanted," Oldaker said. "I don't want Juneau to think I'm slamming them, but it's just inevitable, when you're in a city that you can't get out of unless you're on a plane or a ferry, that you don't have people who can travel so easily to provide opportunities for the residents there."

Oldaker moved back to West Virginia for his sophomore year. At 16, he was offered jobs dancing professionally in Fiesta, Texas, and Nashville, Tenn. At 17, he was invited to compete on the international television show "Star Search."

He turned down both opportunities.

"I decided that as an adult, I would prove my education and my talents to not only my community, but also to my own children," he said.

Wowed by his high school test scores, the Department of Justice recruited Oldaker to work as a fingerprint examiner. After a two-year stint with family in Juneau, he skipped college and went straight to the Criminal Justice Information Services Division, the storehouse of the world's civil and criminal fingerprint files.

"I was very fortunate, very blessed, to have gotten the position," Oldaker said.

After two years, Oldaker was promoted to a management and program analyst position. He travels internationally, and last July, assisted during the investigation of the London Underground bombings.

"The double-decker (bombing) happened a quarter-mile from my hotel," he said. "I was supposed to take the bus that morning, but I decided to take a taxi. Otherwise I could have been one of those (victims)."

Oldaker also spent 16 days in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He helped identify more than 300 unknown dead bodies through fingerprints.

"There is a good purpose for (fingerprints)," he said. "I learned a lot about myself when I went there."

Oldaker and his wife, Stephanie, opened the Premier Studio of Dance this March in Bridgeport. The studio includes nine instructors and teaches more than 28 classes a week. Oldaker teaches all types of dances, but specializes in "pop dancing," tap dance and jazz.

Oldaker has served on the board of directors for the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Association since he was 15. He's a certified Miss America program judge.

Oldaker's niece, Jayme, is now a pre-teen with an interest in tumbling and dance.

"I told my sister-in-law that it's time to bring the dancing to Juneau," Oldaker said.

"A lot of people think hip-hop dancing is only for people who are previously experienced in dance," he said. "A lot of people also think that adults can't dance. My hip-hop is more on the line of what they call pop dancing, where I almost make it aerobic. It's more of an exercise thing."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at korry.keeker@juneauempire.com

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