Kevin Fields

Kevin Fields performs Saturday at the Maple Leaf Parade. The dancer will be part of the final Third Thursday of the season this week in downtown Joplin.

One of the marchers in Saturday’s Maple Leaf Parade in Carthage will make a return appearance this week at downtown Joplin’s final Third Thursday of 2021.

Former Carthage resident Kevin Fields, who now lives in Los Angeles and teaches dance, wowed the crowd at the Carthage parade with dance moves in a suit and top hat that were covered in mirrors, and he said he plans to pull the reflective duds out late Thursday on Joplin’s Main Street.

“I plan to dance all day just in my regular clothes. Then when it’s winding down, I’m going to whip out the mirror suit,” Fields said. “My whole idea with the mirror suit is just for people to give me their eyes. No matter what’s going on, people are going to look my direction. More than the attention I get, it lightens the mood, makes everyone happy.”

Fields, who goes by the stage name K-Flow, is one of dozens of acts set to grace Joplin’s Main Street from First Street to Sixth Street from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday for the monthly downtown event. The Downtown Joplin Alliance said Stone’s Corner Pharmacy is the October sponsor of Third Thursday, and participants will also recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The group said in a release that the Joplin Family Y will host Zumba Party in Pink and the Missouri Southern Zeta Alpha chapter will hand out pink ribbons and sell pink lemonade as part of its philanthropy month.

The event will include live music from Mother Brothers on the 609 stage, homemade piñata creation by Piñata Master, Aaron Sachs bicycle helmet giveaways, historic ghost tours hosted by the Dream Theatre Troupe, pumpkin painting at The Boardroom and Chaos Brewing, and a free pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinic in front of City Hall.

Overcoming spina bifida

At age 12, Fields moved to the area with his family from Sacramento, California, when his dad had a job opportunity in Carthage.

He went to Carthage High School, graduating in 2007, and worked at Schreiber Foods in Carthage for a time, but he always had a love for dancing.

“My dad was my biggest influence of my dance,” Fields said. “We pretty much danced every day when I was growing up. Wherever we were, in the car, in the store or at home, we would always be dancing. So we moved to Missouri, and nobody out here dances or really enjoys dance. So I kind of felt a little secluded.”

A couple of years after he graduated, Fields made a New Year’s resolution and decided to start running, but his back locked up on him, causing unbearable pain and severely limiting his ability to walk.

“I found out I had spina bifida in my spine,” Fields said. “I guess they’re supposed to find that when I was born, but they missed it. I found out about that when I was about 20 years old, and I wasn’t able to walk for at least eight months without a crutch or a cane.”

A vertebra hadn’t finish forming and was deformed, he said.

“The first year I was an insomniac. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t keep food down, and I had to keep a job so I could pay for my medical bills, so it was a really tough rehabilitation,” he said.

Fields went to specialists for help, but what they prescribed didn’t work, so Fields and his mom, Diana Fields, a nurse for 20 years, worked up a rehabilitation plan.

“Basically each muscle, if it can’t do it’s job, it just latches on to the muscle next to it. I got really motivated because I ran into a brick wall, I wasn’t getting anywhere,” Fields said.

“I started going to the gym for three or three and a half hours a day, six days a week. After about eight months, I gained about 20 or 30 pounds of muscle and kind of figured out how to handle the situation. It was a three-year process to get my full running ability back without pain and to kind of get back into being athletic again.”

Dancing in LA, Carthage

In April 2016, Fields decided to take a gamble and follow his dreams to become a professional dancer in Los Angeles.

“I quit my job and sold all my stuff and headed that way,” Fields said. “I didn’t even have a place to stay, I just went there and said I’m going to make this happen. The first two years I lived in LA, I wasn’t really able to come home because I had to spend everything I made on living in LA. The first year I didn’t even have a job. I was like I’m not going to work any regular job, I’m just going to study this dance 12 to 16 hours a day every day until I can figure out how I can make money doing what I love.”

A motorcycle crash two years after he arrived in LA was another setback, but Fields persevered and now says he makes a good living teaching dance lessons and occasionally performing in music videos.

“I don’t really like the industry in LA, like music videos,” Fields said. “I get hired for that kind of stuff, but I don’t really like it. My favorite thing to do is to teach. My biggest gift within dance is to give it to others so they can express themselves the way they want. I teach you the basics and let you put your own flavor on it so you don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I’m doing it wrong.’ I’m saying, do you feel good? All right, you’re doing good then. It’s all about matching your feelings with the movement.”

Fields said he loves to teach dance when he comes to Carthage to see family and friends. Monday and Tuesday found him at the Fair Acres Family Y’s new Downtown Youth Center in Carthage working with any of the sixth graders who happened to be there after school, teaching basic hip hop dance moves.

Fields calls his style of dance hip hop and says that’s an umbrella term for many styles.

“I also worked at an Arthur Murray Dance Academy, and they taught me ballroom dancing,” Fields said. “So I have hip hop on my side for the kids with all the stuff kids want to do, then I have ballroom under my belt. I know 14 different styles of ballroom dancing to teach the adults.”

Fields said he’d like to build his reputation here so when he comes home to see family, he can pay for the trip by teaching private lessons or performing.

“Usually people street dance and expect tips,” he said. “I street dance to get your attention so I can talk to you and see how I can help you and see if you’re interested in dance. So I can generate income, have a professional business. They can learn what they want, and they can feel good about it and get a technical skill.”

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