Finding his own voice
At Urban Movement Arts Kemuel Benyehudah has been able to express himself through
By: Bibiana Correa
If there’s something Kemuel Benyehudah loves to do, it’s dance.
“To me, it’s about rebellion, it’s about do it yourself, it’s about making things more equitable for
Black and brown kids who were like left out, and they created their own ingenuity with their
bodies because that’s all they had,” Kem said. “I’m going to get creative with my body, I’m going
to get out and put graffiti on all these trains because you don’t see me so I’ll make myself
Kem grew up in New York City with a house filled with martial arts, thanks to his father’s love of
the fighting style. In college, Kem was introduced to the drum and bass scene by his friend
Johnny Fajardo. That then sparked his interest in techno and the New York City club scene.
“The music just made sense to me, I connected with it,” Kem said.
About seven years ago, Kem moved to Philadelphia to start his doctoral program at the
University of Pennsylvania. New to the city, he started immersing himself in the city’s club scene
but also wanted to get involved in a dance community. He first started taking classes at the
Koresh Dance Academy in Rittenhouse.
Then, a friend of his suggested he take classes at Urban Movement Arts. He first took the free
salsa classes for students with Ken, then he took the partner salsa classes with Laurel. Soon
one class a week turned into six classes a week, even taking 14 classes in a row, ranging from
hip hop and street dancing to salsa and bachata
Kem loves UMA for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of the bond the instructors have.
“The instructors are a community in that they practice together and dance together, and that
wasn’t always the case at other schools,” Kem said. “A lot of times there wasn’t overlap and I
think students lose out when that’s the case.”
Throughout his time at UMA Kem learned a lot about listening to his body and its limitations.
During classes he realized his body may not move in the exact same way as his instructors, it
moves in his own way.
“There's little things, little feedback and things that helped me understand that I can't move like
Vince, or I can't move like Ricky or I can't move like Ron, or I can't move like Laurel, so don't put
that pressure on yourself,” Kem said. “That kind of put me in this other space where I don't
make it into a competition and don't turn it into like, you're trying to be, you know, like the
teacher or someone else in the class, I’m finding my own voice.”
Kem loves how dance, specifically at UMA, has given him and countless others the space to
express themselves, discover themselves and give them a space to be confident.
“The space brings people together who probably normally would not be in the same space, you
know, people from all different walks of life come into that space and leave with the feeling of joy
and euphoria of learning that they can push their body in a way they never thought possible,”