Teneisha Bonner loved to dance. She loved to entertain and to inspire. She knew how to hold an audience in the palm of her hand, captivating them with her rock hard 8-pack, her strength, power, stamina and agility. Her passion, drive and determination were second to none. She loved to express herself and was as capable of portraying raw emotion as she was deft with comic timing. She loved to laugh, and blimey did she have a good laugh, throwing her head back and clapping her hands loudly. She loved to hide behind doors and jump out on people to scare them. Her love for the avocado was something to behold and she may be solely responsible for the elevation in status of the avocado from weird squishy green fruit to the holy grail of hipster cuisine. I once read there was a shortage of avocados in Spain and I wondered if Teneisha had been there on holiday.
Teneisha Bonner was one of the main reasons I created ZooNation in 2002. She danced with the company for 15 years. She created the roles of Spinderella in Into the Hoods, Kerri in Some Like it Hip Hop and the Queen Of Hearts in The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. ZooNation would not have grown in the way it has without the incomparable talent and contribution of Teneisha Bonner. I will always be grateful that she made my often mediocre ideas look way better than they were. If you were lucky enough to catch Teneisha on stage then you’ll know what I mean when I say she was both breathtaking and mesmerising. She was an inspirational teacher who never stopped being a student, always striving to be the best. She was a woman of faith and it gave her great strength. It comforts me to think she’s up in heaven now, hanging with her God and teaching him to pop! Next time it thunders I’ll be like, ‘5,6,7,8 must be time for class, all the Angels in formation being put through their paces, followed by a compulsory ice bath and six hours of stretching!’
To top it all off, Teneisha was a beautiful human, fiercely loyal, kind, honest, generous and very, very funny! I know she has inspired so many dancers, and her performances have had a massive impact on thousands of people. Teneisha approached life’s challenges with a gritty determination, an unbreakable spirit, and she had a work ethic that is unparalleled by any dancer I have ever worked with. As a choreographer, she always allowed me to dream big, to aim for the extraordinary, because she never said “I can’t do that” she would say “I can’t do that yet…. but give me a week.”
Teneisha was my friend, my housemate, my bridesmaid, my confidant and my inspiration. She challenged me when I needed it, and held my hand through whatever life served up.
Thank you Teneisha, you will always be the ‘prima ballerina’ of hip hop dance, our ‘Golden Child’ and our Queen, forever.