By Anna Grace Moore

Photos by Greg Baird, Tracy Gather, Michael Scott & Contributed

Performing his first-place, award-winning solo, Requiem, Cameron Kennedy majestically transcends the stage floor, ever so gently brisking the floor with every arabesque and arms outstretched–as if to give the audience a warm embrace. Sorrow dresses his saddened smile–one not quite defeated but downtrodden–until he slowly pirouettes into an opportunity and steps confidently through an open door.

Whether on stage or in reality, Cameron credits his dance instructor, Linda Dobbins, for helping open doors in his life he never thought possible. Linda, who founded her namesake dance company in 1994, has spent the better part of 30 years helping dancers not only discover their identities through expressive art, but also enable them to unlock the doors that dance will open.

Linda Dobbins Dance boasts an enrollment of nearly 400 students and is one of the most sought-after dance schools in the Birmingham community. In 2013, Linda formed The Academy at Linda Dobbins Dance, which is both a performing arts and highly competitive academic school that is open to students in fifth-12th grade.

While numerous students audition each year, The Academy only accepts a handful of students and has just eight students enrolled–including Cameron, who was accepted into the school when he was 11 years old. Students attend school Monday-Thursday from 8:15 a.m.-5:30 p.m and sometimes later into the evening, depending on their rehearsal schedules.

While academics are reserved for the morning sessions, the students spend their afternoons studying all styles of dance such as ballet, tap, jazz, acting, modern, contemporary, lyrical and hip hop. The Academy has five instructors, who all have advanced degrees in dance, including Linda’s daughter, Anna Marie Dobbins, whose acting and dancing skills can be seen in 22 different feature films.

Anna Marie is based in Los Angeles, and she travels cross country to mentor and teach students at The Academy. She and Linda together have mentored Cameron for the past several years.

The Academy’s ballet director, Jennifer Moretti, has studied ballet in France since she was 7 years old and has performed with the Opera of Bordeaux, Opera of Nice, Opera of Limoges and the Paris’ Opera Comique to name a few.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love to dance,” Cameron says. “It’s rewarding spending my time here. I can see the sacrifices paying off.”

Cameron began dancing at Linda Dobbins Dance when he was 9 years old, and after performing his first-ever solo on stage, he was connected with the Kinky Boots Broadway Tour based in New York City. Cameron taped his audition and sent it in, not thinking he would get a callback, much less land a lead role–which is exactly what he did.

He was cast as Young Lola in Kinky Boots, and before he knew it, Cameron and his mother, Keisha Kennedy, were traveling 16 hours on a plane to East Asia, where they would spend the next three months on tour. Cameron had not yet hit double digits and was performing for audiences in Shanghai, Beijing and more.

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“From the time he started at Linda Dobbins Dance, Cameron danced around the house, in the garage, at the store–every time I saw him dance, it did something in me,” Keisha says. “I’ve never not felt that Linda Dobbins Dance has Cameron’s best interest at heart.”

By the time he was 15 years old, Cameron had set his sights on The Dance Awards, which is the largest and most prestigious dance competition in the nation. Created by Break The Floor Productions (BTF) in 2009, The Dance Awards serves to showcase the best of the best dancers from each of the four tours within BTF.

These tours travel through close to 20 major cities in the United States and act as the regional competitions or “stepping stones” for each tour’s finalists to go on to compete in nationals–The Dance Awards. More than 1,000 dancers compete on each tour, but only 20 finalists are selected from each to move on to The Dance Awards.

In June 2022, Cameron competed at The Dance Awards in Orlando and placed in the top ten teen male best dancers at just 15 years old. In June 2023, he competed yet again and was honored with first runner up in the entire competition for his division.

The following weekend, Cameron flew to New York City to attend an intensive program at The Juilliard School. As one of his most impressive feats yet, Cameron was one of 41 students out of thousands of applicants worldwide that were chosen to attend this three-week-long program.

Cameron studied under industry veteran Roderick George, focusing on all styles of dance but most importantly, techniques such as Horton, Graham and Limone. He says this program opened his eyes to the careers that both concert and commercial dance offer.

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Now in his junior year with college on the horizon, Cameron says he feels confident that whatever avenue he chooses to pursue, his experience at Linda Dobbins Dance will have prepared him for it. Currently, he is preparing his acts not only for The Dance Awards in 2024, but also his college auditions.

Cameron says schools such as The Juilliard School, Pace University, Chapman University, the University of Southern California and New York University are some of his dream schools, and considering his talent, it will not be surprising if he is accepted into any of them next year. Cameron is also not the first Linda Dobbins Dance protégée to see university doors open from his or her dance experience.

Several of The Academy’s alumni can be seen performing with Dolly Parton and the Brookylnettes, or appearing on Disney and Nickelodeon. With 30 years of training dancers under her belt, Linda says many do not realize just how advantageous careers in dance can be.

Linda prioritizes teaching dance education over recreation, which is why she believes her students are so successful. The bottom line of every lesson she says is always the same: Dancers are performers first and should share the story with the audience.

While this may seem confusing to those not rhythmically inclined, it is actually very easy to understand when one watches a dancer perform–his movements tell a story. Every good story teller is able to evoke emotion from his audience–helping them to feel as though he does.

To witness such artistic fluidity is to enjoy watching Cameron perform. Although he may not yet know what his future holds, he does know that as long as he keeps doing what he loves, dancing, the doors he wants to open, will.

Those interested in learning more about The Academy and Linda Dobbins Dance can visit for more information.

Dancing Outside the Box

Cameron’s favorite style of dance is contemporary because one is freely able to express himself and make a story his own. Contemporary movements are often characterized as open and agile, free from the rigid structure other dance styles mandate. To follow Cameron’s career and see some of his performances, follow him on Instagram @cameronjkennedy.