Neon Keon: How a roller skating brought back a dancer’s love of movement - YELLOWPOP UK

Neon Keon: How a roller skating brought back a dancer’s love of movement

May 19, 2021 Read More

Follow this dancer’s journey from near burnout to a social media sensation on eight wheels.

For modern dancer and roller skate star Keon Saghari, lacing up her skates meant finding her balance in more ways than one. After training under Alonzo King at LINES Ballet in San Francisco and performing professionally for a decade, Keon’s mojo was running low. Thanks in part to the pandemic, she found a vibrant skate community in Venice Beach where she could recharge her creative coffers and regain her glow.

Her custom neon sign from yellowpop, “Flowasis,” stands as a reminder of her happy place. A state of mind where movement has no rules, the sun is always shining, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be.

Today, brands like Sonic and Outdoor Voices are taking note of her iconic curls and super cool moves. But her dedication proves that it’s more than just right place, right time. We picked up a few pointers from the scene’s rising star, and caught up to learn about her journey back to joy.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. You're awesome. No seriously! We watched the videos. Can you tell our readers how you got into skating and what it means to you?

First of all, thank you! I have been a dancer and performer since the age of three, so knowing that my artistry is enjoyed by so many through my videos is a dream come true. I started skating towards the end of my full time dance career. I was a concert modern dancer, performing and touring with companies in San Francisco before moving to Los Angeles.
Dance was never a straight and narrow path for me. I faced a lot of adversity and overcame many hurdles to get the opportunities I did. My love of dance, movement, and performing pushed me to never give up. The life of a dancer is no easy feat, especially in a line of work where your body is your instrument and your appearance is on display to be critiqued and validated.

Photo by @ximeetchart

After working tirelessly in the commercial dance scene in LA for a few years while holding multiple jobs at once and struggling to make ends meet, I got to a point where the stress and exhaustion of being freelance outweighed the joy I was receiving in return. I was having an identity crisis, unable to fully grasp who I was if I wasn't an artist or dancer.

Skating entered my life as a way to grapple with this transition. I wanted to remain active and engaged in my physicality, but specifically, I wanted to find a new way to enjoy my body. Skating quickly became a form of movement that challenged me, introduced me to a new community of people, and helped me regain my confidence. My happy place is skating at the beach - being under the warmth of the sun, breathing the fresh air, and grooving to music.

At yellowpop, we're all about bringing joy to people. Maybe we're projecting, but skating and neon totally have that in common. Do you think there's more joy in skating than other kinds of movement?

I think joy derived from movement varies from person to person. For me, skating healed my wounds from my dance career. I thought I would never dance professionally again, but skating has brought dance back into my life in a way I never expected. The joy I feel when I'm skating is other worldly. It's a combination of physical freedom, synchronicity to music, and feeling unapologetically myself. In dance, I often had to look and be a certain way. In skating, I can come as I am and there are no rules on how I choose to interpret movement on wheels.

Speaking of joy. . . Tell us about your yellowpop sign! Where did you hang it? How does it impact the vibe of your space?

My yellowpop sign is my favorite thing in my home! I have it hung up in my office - creative space. First off, "Flowasis'' is a term that me and one of my skate friends came up with. It's a combination of “flow” and “oasis.” It’s a metaphorical land where everyone is welcome, and who you are is exactly who you are supposed to be. It's when your mind, body, and soul align almost like a trance. You get into your flow state, connect with yourself, and do deep work (of any kind). In the “Flowasis,” you learn, grow, and experience pure joy, and that's why I have it in my creative space. It reminds me to trust myself, look within, and go with the flow!

You have such a fun and funky retro style. Where do you get your inspiration? Does the way you dress impact your mood?

I have always loved bright colors, but living in a cold, foggy city like SF made it challenging to really let my fashion shine through. When I moved to LA, my closet went from being 90% black to almost every color of the rainbow. I have fully embraced my unique look, from curly hair to petite frame. I want the brightness and joy I feel internally to show externally. If I can make even at least one person smile when I roll by them, I've accomplished my goal for the day! A lot of my color inspiration comes from candy. I have always had a sweet tooth and candy makes me happy, so this is my way of paying it forward.

It may not be the most common "sport" ever, but skating looks super physical. What does it take to become a good skater? Do you practice often?

Like with all sports and physical activities, practice, practice practice! In the very beginning, I didn't skate as often because I would get tired quickly and that would manifest as low back and shin pain (I was wobbly and those parts of my body were over working). Once I had my balance and started introducing new movement and backwards skating, I was going to the rink and outside to Venice Beach around three times a week and on the weekends.
Then, once the pandemic hit, I started skating every day. Even if I was only in my skates for 10 minutes at home, having my skates on my feet helped me quickly build the muscle memory I needed to take my skating to the next level.

Photo by @jtrav

I also had so much inspiration around me. Seeing other incredible skaters in my community was motivation to continue practicing and to discover my own style and flow. I'm now at a place where I can incorporate my dancing on my skates and it's allowing for so many new and interesting movement opportunities.

It is also crucial to incorporate some type of alternative strengthening and stretching (I like Pilates and yoga) so your joints and muscles can stay healthy while skating. All of that said, find your balance on your skates first, and then start to use any other movement methods you know to enrich your experience on wheels.

Gravity is a cruel mistress. Can you give would be skaters out there any tips for taking the plunge and going for it?

Most important is safety gear - whatever you need to feel safe and comfortable. Helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads, butt pads. . . whatever it takes! Try to use every fall as a learning opportunity. Notice what caused your fall, identify what part of your body was involved, and what adjustments you need to make to prevent that from happening again. Sometimes it's as minor as lifting your eyes off the ground or bringing your shoulder forward. Sometimes there are multiple things you need to be aware of, but the more you train and practice this approach of body awareness, the quicker you can develop muscle memory.

Thanks for sharing your love of skating with us. Do you have any exciting projects (skate or otherwise) that you'd like to share with our readers?

I do have some exciting projects in the pipeline, but can't share them quite yet! The best way to stay in touch is through my Instagram @neonkeon or to join my email list.