What’s a better thing to do for the New Year than to dance, dance, dance, dance? I hit the floor ‘cause that’s my plans, plans, plans, plans! I’m not sure if fellow Offender Beverly might remember that we used to take Movement for Actors together at the Edge. And she said something that inspired me, “ Aren’t you amazed that you can still will your body to dance? You may not be able to do it when you get older.”
If you can dance today, savor it! My hip hop instructor Dante 7 once said, “You should feel lucky that you can still dance today. So dance like this is your last time. Who knows what can happen tomorrow? You may not be able to dance tomorrow, so seize the day!”
Yes, I’m a bad dancer… as you can see from the video, and that’s why I take classes. Dancing is one of the hardest things for me, but I love it because it’s so much fun and so challenging. The more I take classes, the greater respect I have for dancers. It’s the hardest thing in the world to dance, and to dance well. First, it’s definitive that you succeed or fail in learning the combination. On top of having the ability to do the combination, you need to bring the choreography to life with your own flavah and pizzazz.
“Dancing is hard,” said Phi Nguyen, one of the JabbaWockeeZ who taught me beginning hip hop for a couple years. “If it isn’t hard, then everyone’s doing it. So don’t worry about the people outside [class], you’re doing it now.” I remember how hard it was when I first started. I could barely do the first 8 counts… and I was so embarrassed. But I kept going to classes.
It’s really a privilege living in Los Angeles where so many talented people work and you can go to a dance class almost anytime of the day between the Edge, IDA (International Dance Academy), Millennium, and Debbie Reynolds. So let’s go take classes! I’d like to take my end of the year blog to share with you the choreographers and teachers that have inspired me this year.
JOE ABUDA is a choreographer I found while surfing on Youtube. I just find Joe so impressive and hip as he choreographs out of Quezon City, the Philippines, with a mix of American and Filipino pizzazz. It’s simply amazing to be in an age where you can be inspired and connected internationally via Youtube and Facebook.
BENJAMIN ALLEN is my favorite hip hop instructor. His beginning classes are always super fun and encouraging. He’s the best hip hop teacher you can have when you start out. Check out his classes at the Edge. Ben also founded Groov3, LA’s Hottest Dance Workout for anyone like you and me.
“BIG PAPA” ALLAN FRIAS inspires me because he shows that great dancers come in all shapes and sizes. Allan’s San Francisco classes are always fun and full of energy. He’s definitely my man in the bay.
And check out his combination for So You Think You Can Dance:
KYLE HANAGAMI is a dance sensation. I’d much rather spend time watching videos of a truly talented dancer and choreographer than videos from the deluge of bland and unentertaining Youtube personalities. He teaches at Debbie Reynolds and the Edge… and I still have to work up enough confidence to take his classes. Did I mention that he went to Berkeley? Go bears!
KUMARI reinvented waacking. I love her classes which are always fun and funky. Waacking originated from gay men of color at the L.A. clubs in the early 70s. Essentially it’s a queer version of locking and popping, but Kumari makes it sexy and contemporary for both girls and boys.
EDDIE MARTINEZ mixes both contemporary styles and old school. I always have a load of fun and learn a lot in his challenging classes. “Get your old school grooves right,” he’d say, “They are really the basics.” Come check out his classes at IDA and Debbie Reynolds.
DAVID MOORE has an inspiring combination of movement and musicality. His classes always have great energy. I have definitely gotten better with musicality by taking his classes at the Millenium which has so many amazing dancers. I also learn a lot by watching how fellow dancers interpret his choreography.
NAPOLEON AND TABITHA DUMO are world-class dancers and choreographers. I had the privilege to take some of their classes when they were still teaching at the Edge. They were really extraordinary teachers who were always fresh, encouraging and enthusiastic. Of course, they are world famous now. And now do I get their emphasis on partnership in class.
RHAPSODY pioneered Street Jazz, a dynamic fusion of jazz and hip hop. I had the privilege to take a couple of her Street Jazz classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York. She’s a fantastic choreographer and teacher. I love Rhapsody’s combination for Trish’s yet-to-be-released “Mannequin.” And watch out for this super talented Trish from my homeland Canada!
LESLIE SCOTT recently won Class of the Year at the Edge at the Industry Voice Awards. Leslie has been teaching for 10 years at the Edge and Millenium. I love her sexy and high energy choreography which is often a bit challenging for me. Leslie’s classes always kick my ass.
So let’s get in shape, take a class and hit the clubs! My personal resolution for next year is to improve on my musicality and really listen to the music =)