On the Pursuit of Passions with Derrick Judkins


We are often forced to choose our thing, one single hobby or passion that defines us. Something that we do and are identified as being good at. Something that we pour our entire soul into. But what happens when you have two different things? Oftentimes, we are pressured to pick one and stick with it. Here, Derrick Judkins argues that you don’t have to choose just one.  

As a dancer, he is known as Kid Nimbus. His movement can be characterized as an intersection of goofiness and poeticism; his personality shines through his moves and his talent is apparent to both the trained and untrained eyes. In 2018, he exchanged rounds with some of the most talented dancers in the Midwest and was crowned the 2018 World of Dance All Styles champion in the Chicago competition. He entered the contest for every reason but to win, which reemphasizes both his humility and passion. Having signed up because he wanted to have fun, to support his friends and challenge himself, he was surprised when he got to the finals, and shocked when he won.

 “Being on that stage was truly a blessing, it was a big game changer and showed me what I’m really capable of.”

Derrick at World of Dance in 2018.

Derrick at World of Dance in 2018.


 The win served as an obvious motivation, but the road to recognition hasn’t always been easy for Derrick.

“Up until the 7th grade, I had no rhythm whatsoever. I guess you could say I always liked dancing, but I haven’t always been good at it.”

 As an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University he majored in Biology, hoping to one day go to medical school. Between dance, classes and life, his grades started to slip and he had to make a choice. 

 “Part of my journey is understanding that you could do both, who says you can’t? Yeah, you might have to sacrifice some things. I cut out a lot of fake friends and useless extracurricular activities to be able to pursue my dance and medical careers.”

Being able to define what truly mattered and pursue it allowed Derrick to compete throughout college and create choreography pieces that were recognized in professional dance circles. His experience in college helped him understand the potential he has, and at just 23 years old, he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. He currently travels with his dance groups BLVK Lotus and Electric Samurais.


His time at college also led Derrick to his current job at the University of Chicago, where he works as a research assistant and phlebotomist on the All of Us research program. The study aims to gather the data of one million people in order to help researchers find cures for diseases and provide patients with individualized care. It is revolutionary in many ways and hopes to change the world. Derrick’s role in it exposes him to people from different walks of life, as anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. In surprising ways, him being a dancer, helps.

 “Dance has allowed me, just as a person, to be more social. I was into anime before anime was cool. I could never reach out to people who didn’t have the same interests as me, but dance allows me to reach out to everyone. It captivates multiple types of audiences and has made me to be more likable as a person.”

Right now, Derrick’s time is split between work and dance. He has to manage his time more strategically than other performance artists who may have the luxury of time to train. But the challenge and duality of his life has not discouraged him. In hopes of bridging the gap between the African American community and medicine, Derrick plans to go to school to become a Physician’s Assistant. In the meantime, he can continue encouraging us all to pursue our differing interests, whatever they may be. 

 “If you want to be a businessman, a juggler and a pilot, you can do it. Don’t let anybody tell you no.”



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Gosia Labno is a photographer and writer based in Chicago. She holds a B.S. in Media and Cinema Studies and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies. She is working on a collection of short stories chronicling the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Follow.